Jay Leno: I would take ‘Tonight Show’ back if they offered

Last week, I heard the unfortunate and funny news that The Jay Leno Show, which is NBC’s new 10 p.m. show every damn week night, is eating it big time. The show’s ratings are so bad, Leno doesn’t even beat out a CSI rerun. The ratings are so bad, local NBC affiliates are starting to complain. Loudly. Their 11 o’clock local news shows are being decimated too. While I do think it’s sad that Leno’s show isn’t working out quite the way people expected, I also feel quite happy, in that schadenfreude way. NBC made a stupid gamble cancelling out all of their 10 p.m. hour-long dramas (or maybe I can‘t get used to watching Law & Order at 8 p.m.) and the network deserves to have their asses handed to them. It sounds like Leno knows how big a mistake was made too – he gave an interview to Broadcast & Cable Magazine, and Leno basically said that he probably wants his old job back. Whoops! Sorry, Conan!

Jay Leno’s new 10 pm talk show is losing viewers, as are the local news programs that follow it in several major markets. This is not good for the network that made the decision to move Leno from his perch atop the late night talk show rankings.

One of the silver linings proferred by NBC types during the show’s ratings slide is that, while they knew Leno would have tough going in the fall when the new dramas it was up agaisnt were in full swing, he would kill the much more expensive dramas he is up against once said pricey programs were in reruns.

Last week, that theory got put to the test when Leno went up against a “CSI:Miami” rerun.

He lost.

That is the backdrop for Leno’s illuminating QA with Broadcast & Cable magazine today, in which he was asked flat out if he regretted his move to primetime.

“Would I have preferred to stay at 11:30?” Leno mused. “Yeah, sure.”

Leno went further, comparing hosting the “Tonight Show” for 17 years to winning the prestigious America’s Cup yacht race, adding the rejoinder: “Do I enjoy the battle [of making the new show work]? Yes, I get a certain amount of satisfaction from pounding my head against the wall.”

Then later, when asked if he would take back the “Tonight Show” if offered, Leno seemed unaware that the job had been filled: “If it were offered to me, would I take it? If that’s what they wanted to do, sure. That would be fine if they wanted to.”

This does not sounds like a happy man.

And with Conan O’Brien’s “Tonight Show” ratings way below Leno’s when Leno left, one can only wonder if the 18-foot tall red-headed gabber is hearing Leno’s iron-jawed noggin pounding against the wall… in his nightmares.

[From Fox News 411]

I rarely watched The Tonight Show when Leno was host, and I never watch Conan, so I have no basis to experience as a viewer to compare and contrast. That being said, and even though I hate the idea of The Jay Leno Show, I have watched it more than a handful of times, and it’s not horrible. It’s not great, either, but I actually like some of the interviews Leno has done. I think Leno wanted to make a forum for a more in-depth kind of interview, in the vein of the old Dick Cavett Show from the 1970s (TCM shows reruns, and they’re awesome!). I kind of hope that Conan gets to stay on The Tonight Show, and that NBC ends up canceling or scaling back The Jay Leno Show. Perhaps Leno should only be on two nights a week, or something like that? It would give him the opportunity to do good interviews without all of the extra crap that isn’t funny.

Here’s Leno’s great interview with Ewan McGregor from one week ago – I really enjoyed how relaxed both Ewan and Jay were:

Jay Leno is shown out driving on 10/25/09. Credit: Mike/Fame Pictures


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26 Responses to “Jay Leno: I would take ‘Tonight Show’ back if they offered”

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  1. TwinkleToes says:

    Besides “headlines”, he’s dead in the water.

  2. Kevin says:

    OOOHHH HEEELLLLL NAAAWWWWW!!!!! Jay you have and always will suck!!! You wouldn’t make a good pimple on the ass of Johnny Carson or Steve Allen. You can’t conduct on interview without cutting of the interviewee to save your big chinned life. You also are a lame ass comedian. You should be glad that a no talent hack like you has made anything during your career. Did I mention you suck?

  3. Feebee says:

    You think it’s hard watching L&O at 8pm, try 7pm (Central)! There’s no way L&O SVU should be on at 8pm (CT) but it has to be for Jay.

    Jay proclaimed he wanted to retire at the end of his Tonight Show contract, then he changed his mind but too late so he got the 9pm timeslot. Slap 1 for Conan. Now he publicly states he’d take over Conan’s show if it was offered. Slap 2 for Conan. Jay’s being an ass. The Tonight Show’s moved on, there’s no going back. AND GIVE ME BACK MY 10PM/9C DRAMAS!!!!!

  4. Firestarter says:

    I know, that I for one, am TIRED of daytime and late night talk shows. It is the same old tired bits on every one of them. Same celebs with teh same fake stories and bad interviews.

    Leno made his first mistake when he decided he wanted to retire. Too bad buddy, you made the choice. Live with it.

    I feel sorry for Conan, not enough to watch, but he is a genuinely funny guy and deserves to have the same success he had on Late Night with Conan.

    The bottom line: NBC is in BAAAAD shape. They have nothing going for them, except maybe their Thurs. night line up (Which I do not watch). They are ready to pull the plug on Law and Order next year, and should be ashamed that they moved the show to a Friday night death slot.

    Who wants to watch talk shows from 9pm, with a half hour for news, until 1am? NBC has Leno, Conan, Fallon and then the always terrible show with Carson Daly? People can only take so much talk!

    Bring back sitcoms, dramas and the mini-series. Tv is nothing but reality b.s and talk! BIG YAWN!

  5. voodoobetty says:

    Hey Kevin, don’t suppress your feelings so much hon. Not healthy. 😉

    I hate Leno too. A shining example of the fact that the majority of the American public knows nothing about comedy or entertainment. He’s boring, unfunny, lacks timing and its just unpleasant to look at.

  6. Popcorny says:

    Jay and NBC made their manure bed and now they ought to lay in it.
    No way should he get that spot back … Conan is the man. Conan’s the only thing that keeps me away from Dave.
    NBC’d choke itself worse if it tried to roust Conan from that spot to appease Jay Whino, viewers won’t be having it (NBC or Jay Lame-o).

  7. Susette says:

    “A shining example of the fact that the majority of the American public knows nothing about comedy or entertainment.”

    If this statement were true, the show wouldn’t be tanking. Obviously, the majority of the American public watches something other than Leno.

    NBC made a stupid decision cancelling some of the only quality shows they had left, and continue not to learn from their mistakes, as evidenced by the recent refusal not to air the new episodes of Southland. All their execs need a kick in the head.

  8. Beth says:

    I don’t know what NBC was expecting in terms of ratings. If they expected to have the same ratings as it’s dramas they were shooting way to high. I do think it’s unfair to compare the ratings of a talkshow with a scripted or even reality show. They are too different. People don’t watch talkshows as religiously as scripted/reality shows. I think Leno is in the 6 million viewer range whereas the dramas had 2-4 million more viewers. This may sound bad but it’s all about the money. Leno makes more money for NBC than the dramas. It doesn’t cost much to produce whereas scripted television cost millions. That’s also why there’s so many reality shows, low production budget. They should have had Leno on just 2 or 3 times a week or maybe the 8pm timeslot. I stopped watching some shows because I keep forgetting the time change or I prefer watching another show.

  9. Kevin says:

    Voodoo Betty duly noted. Appreciate you looking out for me! I was thinking about this but you know whats different with the talk shows? Where the hell are the sidekicks? Andy Richter rounded out and played off Conan and it was great! Johnny had Ed and that was good too. I like Regis and guess who he has? Kelly of course. Remember When Johnny used to go on vacation and he would have guest hosts do his show? That used to be good. Remember when Joan Rivers used to do it and she was actually funny? Heck theres no way neurotic Jay would let anybody else in his seat. It would be way too easy to see that they had more talent then him.

  10. Lantana says:

    Yeah. What Firestarter said. And I especially totally agree about the L&O move to Fri. Shame on them.

  11. Eileen Yover says:

    OMG that picture of him looks like a grandma with no teeth!

  12. voodoobetty says:

    Susette I was talking about the fact that a no-talent hack like Leno has a career in the first place and the Tonight Show lasted so long with him at the helm. Loosen up babe.

  13. voodoobetty says:

    Kevin – I agree with the sidekicks statement. Nobody on network telly is strong enough to consistently carry a show. The sidekicks often added a great element to these sort of shows and I do remember Joan Rivers standing in for Carson. She was a trip and refreshing change from Carsons delivery. Both talented but different.

  14. anyhoo says:

    I think they should just put Leno on once a week at 10 pm. That way, he could still semi retire, and it opens up 4 days on “regular shows”.

    I agree, no one wants to watch talk show after talk show after talk show.

    But once a week, Leno could be funny and wouldn’t have to fill up so much time.

  15. Susette says:

    Sorry, Voodoobetty. I didn’t mean to come off as “unloose”. Given that the topic was Leno’s abysmally low ratings, your comment didn’t make sense to me. Now I understand what you’re saying.

    I’m still not sure he was ever really that popular beyond a certain demographic that wanted fluff before bedtime. The only people I know that can even tolerate watching him are my mother’s age (60+). I think the Tonight Show is what kept him afloat all this time, not the other way around.

  16. Guest says:

    leno = tonite show. bye conan.

  17. Feebee says:

    “I think they should just put Leno on once a week at 10 pm”

    Yeah, on Friday.

  18. Tazina says:

    Looks like everyone is a loser here, Leno, Conan and the network. It’s on at 9:00 pm Central and that is just too early for me. Tonight I’ll be watching The Little Couple on TLC at that time instead of Leno. I don’t like some of the regular bits he has now, like “Earn Your Plug”….incredibly boring and lame. I don’t like the missing desk. I used to watch Leno but always did wince at his interviewing style, interrupting the guests, touching them and turning it around to talk about himself which nobody wants to hear. He should be grateful he was as successful as he was and move on.

  19. Jeri says:

    No Sh-t Sherlock. I would take a million if they offered. Actually I would take $5. if they offered. DUH!

  20. Spooge says:

    Well ya can’t have it back so there.

  21. Celebitchy says:

    NBC does have what I think is the funniest show this season, Community. It’s on Thursdays at 8:00. (They are not an advertiser of ours and I genuinely love that show.) I have to watch everything on Hulu or fancast though as I’m overseas. I can see how it would be really annoying if all your favorite shows are suddenly way earlier.

  22. Danielle says:

    Maybe I am in the minority but I am really enjoying his new show. It’s more spontaneous than the Tonight Show and I just love the variety of comics he has every week. Jay is funny when he is able to be himself. I haven’t been watching Conan cause well, it’s just the same ol’ crap and he has become way too self-obsessed. He would rather talk about himself when he is interviewing someone.

  23. la chica says:

    “Community” is a hilarious show. Joel McHale is quite charming and Chevy Chase is tolerably quirky. funny show.

    I also hope George Lopez’ new talk show does well in the 11pm slot. That more than anything else will crush Leno’s aging heart.

  24. Md says:

    I love comedy and i like j and conan both a lot, i just luv that jay is still on air.

  25. pmv1631 says:

    What a bunch of idiots you are. First of all, Jay was beating the pants off Letterman. From everything I read, Jay didn’t want to leave the Tonight show he was forced out by the morons at NBC. Worst of all, the had 5 years to do figure out that Conan dosen’t work at the 11:30 time slot. Jay only said he might retire AFTER they told him he is losing the Tonight show. If you don’t know the facts, then keep your opinions to yourselves please. Now that I have said that, I doubt they will put Jay back on at 11:30. They are to stupid to admit they made a mistake. Plus even if they did put Jay back, not sure it would work. The damage has been done.

  26. Will says:

    I think the best thing everyone can do to hit NBC and Leno below the belt.. just like they did to Conan.. is to set up a major boycott of the Tonight Show when Leno returns..
    Also.. we need to get into the audience and then boo and hissss and make him so uncomfortable that he squirms..

    I am not a major fan of any late nite TV, but NBC put the screws to Conan and Leno has been an ass and a back stabber since he plotted to take over Tonight from Johnny Carson..

    Time for Leno to PAY UP..