Jay Leno’s 10 o’clock show on the skids; Conan O’Brien may be out at 11:30

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If you thought the “Jay Leno vs. David Letterman” battle of the 90’s was epic, this new clusterf#ck over at NBC makes that look like a picnic. It’s no secret that the Jay Leno 10 p.m. nightly show is a total disaster – even NBC, which was all gung-ho about the idea a few months ago, is agreeing that the ratings and format have been an absolute nightmare. But the question now is, how do they fix it – and where does this leave Jay Leno, as well as his Late Show replacement, Conan O’Brien?

NBC appears to be pedaling away from it’s ill-fated decision to run The Jay Leno Show five nights a week at 10 p.m.

As reports swept through Hollywood and the Internet that the network would dial back or eliminate the program in that time period, NBC issued the following statement:

“Jay Leno is one of the most compelling entertainers in the world today. As we have said all along, Jay’s show has performed exactly as we anticipated on the network. It has, however, presented some issues for our affiliates. Both Jay and the show are committed to working closely with them to find ways to improve the performance.”

While NBC is not tipping its hand just yet, the network appears to be planning a change just days before it announces new mid-season programming Sunday at a gathering of television critics in Pasadena and just days before a meeting with its affiliates board.

As the network continues to insist that Leno has met its modest expectations, the show has been yet another serious problem for the already-troubled network. Not only has Leno failed to draw ratings at 10 p.m., but NBC’s affiliates have seen the viewership plummet for their critically important 11 p.m. local newscasts because of the weak lead-in provided by Leno. Conan O’Brien has also been fighting a losing battle at 11:35 p.m., eroding NBC’s previously dominant position in that time slot.

While cable giant Comcast is many months away from completing its purchase of NBC Universal, there has been abundant speculation that the owners-to-be would want to reclaim the 10 p.m. slot with scripted programming which, if successful, can still prove lucrative.

The decision raises intriguing questions about Leno’s next move. While NBC devised the 10 p.m. show as a way of keeping him at the network (having committed to giving O’Brien the Tonight Show slot), there has been speculation that Leno might leave after all if his 10 p.m. show were pulled. Chances are that both Fox and ABC would both be delighted to give Leno a late-night show should he make himself available. Some in Hollywood wonder, however, whether the unsuccessful foray into primetime will prove to have damaged the Leno brand.

The rumor was first reported on the FTV Live website.

[From Daily Beast]

Meanwhile, TMZ is reporting that Jay Leno will return to his Late Show time slot of 11:30, and poor Conan will be out. No!

Jay Leno is going back to his 11:30 PM time slot, and it’s looking like Conan O’Brien is the odd man out … sources tell TMZ.

We’ve learned Jay’s 10:00 PM show will go on hiatus February 1. After the Olympics, Jay will take back his 11:30 PM time slot. What has not been decided — whether Jay’s show will be a half hour, followed by Conan, or whether Jay’s show will be an hour and NBC says sayonara to Mr. O’Brien.

We’re told Jay and Conan have both been told of the changes. As for Jay, interestingly, he’ll get what he always wanted — his 11:30 PM time slot.

[From TMZ]

I think this is rather unfair to Conan O’Brien. If Jay Leno’s crappy 10 o’clock show is causing a ratings downfall for the 11 o’clock news, it stands to reason that Conan’s show is taking a hit for the same reason. I think Conan is way funnier than Jay and appeals to a younger audience, which was the whole reason the network took Jay out of the Late Show spot. It doesn’t make sense to put him back there if he wasn’t getting the job done. Why is NBC so loyal to Jay and not to Conan?

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42 Responses to “Jay Leno’s 10 o’clock show on the skids; Conan O’Brien may be out at 11:30”

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  1. LolaBella says:

    I hate you NBC for this!

    I could care less about Jay Leno, but it’s his and NBC’s fault that Conan is in jeopardy!

    Conan was doing well at 12:30 and those of us who are his true fans knew that the new time slot would stifle him creatively. Plus Jay’s show is absolute drivel and no one sticks around afterwards for the news or Conan.

    NBC needs to get rid of Jay, give some dramas the coveted 10p.m. time slot and they would see Conan’s and indeed the Network’s numbers climb.

    NBC is shooting themselves in the foot with their current ‘Jay as the anchor’ strategy!

    I still watch and love you Conesy Wonesy!

  2. bella says:

    @ Lola,
    Isn’t it funny how the fans know what will kill a show but the network suits don’t? Amazing.

  3. Jazz says:

    Somewhere, someplace, Letterman is rubbing his hands with glee and laughing manically.

  4. Rachel says:

    NBC is loyal to Jay Leno because he brought in the ratings all those years against Letterman. Conan hasn’t been able to do that. Personally, I like Jay I’m not a fan of Conan. I haven’t been watching Jay at 10pm because there are better shows on at 10pm.

  5. Dorothy says:

    I LOVE Conan and I was totally excited that he brought back Andy Richter, they are the best tv couple EVER!!!!

    I actually like jay on at 10:00 it is nice not to have to watch a cop or hospital drama right before I go to bed.

  6. BitterBetty says:

    My beloved Coco has a 3 year contract so he’s not going anywhere.

    Leno on the hand…

  7. Keen says:

    I’m so glad to know that there are some sane people in the world!! (although I wish there were some at nbc) I agree with all of you, by putting up Jay Leno’s crappy show in primetime (even if you like jay leno, you have to agree, it sucks) they doomed Conan at the Tonight Show from the start! They should at least give him a chance. and it makes NO SENSE for NBC to be so Jay-crazy!

    @Rachel – I am a fan of Jay’s (although I like Conan more) but it had little to do with him bringing in the ratings for “all those years.” It was always a close contest btw Leno and Letterman, with Letterman always edging out at the top UNTIL Jay happened to have Hugh Grant booked to promote his movie when all of that Divine Brown nonsense went down. After that Jay had a slight edge over Letterman. If anything, NBC should be loyal to Hugh Grant! lol

  8. Lantana says:

    Will they put Conan back on in Fallon’s time slot? I like Conan a lot better than Jimmy Fallon and usually that is the time slot that I watch…so I wonder what Fallon is thinking about all this?

  9. Eileen Yover says:

    How many night shows does NBC think we need? Leno’s primetime show was a fail before it even got started. I like Conan and I hope he finds another network!

  10. Birdie says:

    @ Jazz… Somewhere, someplace, Letterman is rubbing his hands with glee and laughing manically… [while forcing all his female staffers to become his sex slaves]

    GD Diabolical Genius!

  11. Birdie says:

    Team Conan!

  12. Annabelle says:

    I stopped watching conan because he’s way too political for me- not just light and fun like he used to be. That said, he uprooted and moved across the country for the job and the expensive new set was built- I’d me upset if I was him, too

  13. Firestarter says:

    TMZ is reporting they told Conan he has a choice- He can go to on later or leave. NIIICE!

    WTF! Leno caused all this by announcing he WANTED to retire, then decided no after they decided to give Conan The Tonight Show. He just couldn’t let his greedy mitts let go of a show. Then NBC, already floundering program-wise, lets Leno have the ridiculous 9-10pm cst slot, ruining any chance of ANY decent programming. Who in the hell wants to watch non-stop talk from practically the afternoon until Carson Daily signs off on his SNOOZEFEST every night, with maybe 2 hours of drama or sitcoms thrown in?

    I find it sad that Conan has not been able to create the same magic at 10:30 in L.A that he had at 11:30 in New York. Has NBC even considered that MAYBE the public has grown tired of talk talk talk all the bloody time. Maybe we, the public would love to see a western again once a week like a Gunsmoke type show, or some FUNNY comedy again, or maybe a cheesy nightime soap again, and not some b.s concept dragged up from the 1980’s.

    Leno needs to go. I never hated the man until all this stuff, and now he just sickens me. I wish Conan the best and I hope someone snaps him up and he blows EVERYONE out of the water with a better show on some other network.

    Sadly, in all this mess the L&O franchise has suffered. Not only do their time slots SUCK, but both L&O and SVU have lost something story wise. I am almost embarrassed for Mariska Hargitay in next weeks SVU where she plays a dominatrix and says, in the worst acting I have seen from her ever “Lick my boot worm, LICK IT!!!!!!!!!!!” No wonder I watch other networks so much, and spend infinite amounts of time watching HBO, STARZ and Showtime.

    Whew! Okay. I think I am done!

  14. MSat says:

    I think they should give Triumph the Insult Comic Dog the 10 pm slot.

  15. Jazz says:

    @Birdie – eeewwww!! LOL!

  16. Susette says:

    NBC is run by morons who have killed or canceled some great shows to accommodate Leno’s crapfest.

    I don’t get why Leno himself doesn’t just walk away. He’s got plenty of money and he’s doing nothing but generating bad will at this point. When it comes down to it, NBC wouldn’t have been able to make these mistakes if Leno hadn’t gone along with everything.

  17. Popcorny says:

    Leno and NBC = a couple’a scumbags.

  18. LolaBella says:

    @ Susette: ITA and I think the reason why Leno won’t leave is this: EGO!

    At this point I wish that another network (ABC??)would just swoop in and offer Conan a better deal so that he can tell NBC to kiss his ass as he leaves their line-up in shambles.

    Your fans will go with you Conesy; DO IT!

  19. QB says:

    Leno stopped being funny a long time ago . I like Conan, he and Craig are the only good late night show.

  20. mooncake says:

    I wish Conan all the best. Team Conan all the way!

  21. Missy says:

    Leno retired and if his new experimental show failed, then too bad!!! Team Conan!!!!

  22. t says:

    I wonder that too, Lantana…why don’t they put Conan back in the spot Fallon has and put Fallon back in the late late spot?

  23. S.V. says:

    I hate Jay Leno, I think he’s a douche bag. I hope that NBC comes to their senses and puts Law & Order SVU back on at 10pm. TEAM CONAN!

  24. Kathie says:

    I am almost embarrassed for Mariska Hargitay in next weeks SVU where she plays a dominatrix and says, in the worst acting I have seen from her ever “Lick my boot worm, LICK IT!!!!!!!!!!!” No wonder I watch other networks so much, and spend infinite amounts of time watching HBO, STARZ and Showtime.

    Whew! Okay. I think I am done!

    NOOOOO Firestarter, that breaks my heart, I LOVE Mariska and you are right that is the most horrible dialog! As for Leno v Conan I am not invested in either and I agree with you about programming as well. All network execs want is to parrot any successful formula they see without any creativity and do that till they kill an entire genre for 10 years or so. I am waiting patiently for the “reality” craze to end. Why must we stuff ourselves with whaever we enjoy without variety until we sicken from it?

  25. Cinderella says:

    Leno is wore out. He should retire. Go home and wax his 500 cars. That should keep him busy.

  26. gaby says:

    On one hand ,this is not the first time that NBC has tried screw Conan over. When Late Night started back in the 90s they cancelled his show at the very beginning (without him even knowing)when the ratings were not good. If I were him I would seriously consider leaving to another network. WHy should he have to remain loyal to a network that has not been loyal to him?
    But on the other hand, my fiancee and I have been fans of Conan for years and we knew that him moving earlier to the Tonight Show would stifle his comedy creatively. My parents do not get/appreciate Conan’s brand of humor. It is aimed at younger edgier audience. Jay Leno is for the older, simple-humored audience. So maybe Conan moving back to 12 will be good. But in that case would it still be the “Tonight Show?” Being given the title of the host of the Tonight Show is one of the biggest honors a comedian can hope to achieve, and to strip away that achievement from someone who it was just given to a few months ago is extremely disrespectful and wrong on the networks part.

  27. BitterBetty says:

    I’m not going to believe any of this until I see it happen. yes, I’m in denial.

  28. hatsumomo says:

    Well, I like the Conan show, never been into Jay’s show so that’s where my loyalties lay. But really from what I read online, it seems apparent Jay’s show is sucking so why don’t they just admit it/ I suppose my viewership wont matter cause I don’t have a TV, but still, I’ll dwnld his shows anyway. Best of luck to him!

  29. Firestarter says:

    @Kathie- I love her too, but this year, there has just been something “off” with the show. I will watch next weeks episode, of course, because I have always been a fan of both her and the show, but I will be watching it through my fingers, like a scary movie! LOL!

  30. Samantha says:

    This is so disappointing. I understand the loyalty to Jay, but they shouldn’t just dick around Conan. Dirty. In my opinion Conan is way funnier than Jay Leno. I hope he gets an offer from another station and takes it.

  31. lucy2 says:

    Everyone knew this was going to be a mistake. Everyone…but NBC. Which I used to love, and now only watch on Thursdays.
    I don’t like Leno anymore, I think his comedy is corny &utterly predictable. I much preferred Conan, but Leno at 10 turns me off of NBC so I haven’t even been watching Conan. If I watch anything live at that time now, it’s the Daily Show/Colbert Report.
    Leno is the one who wanted to leave the show in the first place, so I think he should be the one booted out the door now. It’s really unfair to Conan, and if I were him and they tried to push me back to 12:30, I’d say screw you, NBC. I’m sure there is a mega-contract and he’d probably get a huge payday if they boot him from the Tonight Show. But it sucks.
    Looks up writer/producer John Well’s quotes about the Leno show for some good insight. And here’s hoping the show Southland, a victim of the Leno time shot shuffle, does really well on TNT, just to rub it in to NBC.

  32. dubdub2000 says:

    “Jay Leno is one of the most compelling entertainers in the world today” ?????!!!

    Seriously?! That right there is why NBC is down in the dumps, thank God for their thursday night line up, the only decent thing they got on: it’s obvious to EVERYONE except NBC that the above statement is NOT true. The problem isn’t Conan, the problem is NO ONE wants to watch Jay at 10pm so they switch to another channel and do not come back for the news or Conan.

    Jay’s show is soooo boring, it was already boring before but at 11.30 pm you are already half asleep and it didnt really matter but at 10pm people want quality “grown up” tv. The kids are in bed let the adults have some fun and Jay’s tired formula, lame jokes and nauseating *ss kissing is not quality.

    I actually don’t think NBC has any loyalty to Jay, I think they are afraid that if they dump him, as he has decided that he still wants to do his lame show on tv, he’ll run off to fox and be serious competition for them, so they’d rather hang on to him.

    I can’t imagine what state Conan must be in about this. Poor guy.

  33. Sumodo says:

    Sounds like it’s Fallon who’s really in trouble–if it goes back to Leno, then Conan, Fallon gets the Carson Daly time spot. Fallon’s not that bad: a bit whimsical and silly, but what he gets out of his guests is superb.

  34. KelBear says:

    This actually makes me very angry because the reason Southland got cancelled is because Leno took up all of the 10 oclock slots on NBC.
    And it is too gritty of a show to have on at 9pm they said.

    Tnt picked up the show so when it does really well I hope NBC regrets their decision.

  35. juiceinla says:

    Hate Leno, Love Conan, Love Dave more. I will NEVER watch LENO at any time. He is a pathetic humorless kiss ass who stole the gig from his friend. NBC, meh- who cares. I hope everyone sticks with Dave, and Leno slinks away with his forked tail between his legs.

    I think its premature to say Conan was a mistake and everyone knew. More like, EVERYONE knew Conan was so different from Leno, that there would be alienation/exodus of certain viewers/demographics. NBC execs are wishywashy balless lemmings for failing to stick it out and let Conan build an audience.

  36. Uzi says:

    This is a classic “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” situation. Leno won his time slot because he appealed to an older, blander, more conservative demographic than Letterman, O’Brien, Kimmel, etc. Now these people are watching L&O, CSI, or other shows at 10pm, especially since NBC’s lame prime time lineup doesn’t attract many viewers of ANY demographic. I tried to watch the new Leno show twice but had to switch to another channel because it was so bad. I wish Conan luck dealing with the moronic NBC suits!

  37. Erin says:

    Agreed Kaiser…Conan kicks Jay’s ace when it comes to comedy….just not fair…

  38. GatsbyGal says:

    Why did Jay leave his original show, give it to Conan, and then give himself another show? I thought he was leaving TV for good. Why didn’t he just stay on the Late Show then? I so don’t understand this mess. I can’t help but think Jay Leno planned all of this in order to ruin Conan.

  39. Kolby says:

    God, this just makes me so damn sick.

  40. angie says:

    Leno stinks! I never watched The Tonight Show while he was on it. Since Conan came on board I have watched it almost every night. Leno has never been funny and his face reminds me for some reason of a school bus.

  41. sillystuff says:

    Jay Leno is far funnier and classier than Conan. They should have left him at 10:30 for a full-hour. If I were Leno and only got 30 minutes, I would look for someone who appreciated me; another network. It was Leno that kept beating Letterman; NOT CONAN.

  42. Jenny says:

    Team Conan! Forget Leno and rise from the ashes like the Phoenix and surpass him and blow him away–whatever network you decide to go with!