Sunday, January 10, 2010

Press tour: NBC moving Jay Leno out of primetime, wants to keep Conan and Fallon

Over at NJ.com, I have a longer take on the NBC executive press tour session and the big mess with Jay, Conan and company.

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

I know NBC didn't care that the critics or general public thought this experiment wasn't going to work, but it seems odd that they never asked/considered the opinions of their affiliates. When coming up with this idea, why not go to them and say, "Hey, how would you guys feel if you lost 30% of your viewers?" Might have saved some time and headaches.

And I still don't understand why Leno couldn't change his format if they thought that was part of the problem. Was it an artistic thing? Does he actually think the crap he does on his show is quality work that shouldn't be altered? Or is it just hubris on Leno's part?

Anonymous said...

Leno should just retire and start his own stand up comedy tour with Gallagher, Carrot Top, and Dane Cook. Instead of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour it could be the We Don't Understand Why We're Successful Comedians Either Tour.

MyFawny said...

Other than his Hugh Grant interview was there anything memorable about his run on The Tonight Show that warranted his 10pm slot? I'd have had more respect for him if he had just bowed out gracefully. His jokes and jibs at NBC make him look bitter and desperate.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I know NBC didn't care that the critics or general public thought this experiment wasn't going to work, but it seems odd that they never asked/considered the opinions of their affiliates.

Gaspin said they and the affiliates did a lot of research that showed this was going to do better numbers than it did.

Gaspin: "What research pointed to was this had a really good shot at working. The affiliates signed on with us. They are just as disappointed as we are."

Larry McHenry said...

If I was Conan, I was just walk away instead of being embarassed and punished by NBC even further for something that's not his fault. It's amazing how far this network has fallen since the late 90s. All this to keep someone who is now forever damaged goods(Jay) happy.

Anonymous said...

But Alan, as bad as the ratings have been for Leno, aren't they close to in-line with what NBC expected? What were the affiliates expecting to happen at this point?

LA said...

What strikes me as odd after reading all the critics' real-time tweets and now all your recap articles is that NBC execs continue to remain firmly entrenched up Leno's posterior despite his epic and profound failure.

The success Jay enjoyed as the host of the Tonight Show is gone, and his brand is destroyed to ruinous proportions.

Why is NBC still so invested in Jay Leno as their savior?

cadfile said...

The big thing I saw was Zucker and company talking about ending the current affiliate model and they failed to take into consideration the DVR. It was telling to see the reports that people were watching their saved shows at 10 PM instead of Leno.

It also looks like that if Conan does stay - a BIG if at this point - his contract is for 2 more years and ironically Letterman will have a 2 year contract and Letterman likes Conan... something to think about.

Conan has no reason to trust NBC at this point. He was demoted with the great experiment and now he will be shafted again by having to move to 12.

Leno was a butthead during the booking wars when he first was host and he is doing it again.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully Conan will take the same advice offered to Letterman when NBC made a half-hearted effort to give him the Tonight Show if Leno continued to fail. Walk away. This isn't the Tonight Show of Johnny Carson, Jack Paar, or Steve Allen. Leno and NBC killed whatever mystique and glamor the show had long ago.

Matt said...

The research they kept touting, at leas tin advertising, was researching saying "people want comedy at 10." People who want "comedy" at 10 may not want Jay Leno at 10. Put Modern Family on at 10? It delivers decent numbers.

Personally, I'd be interested if a network put on an edgier comedy at 10 PM, when they can be a little looser with language and sex, if not HBO level.

Alf said...

I never really had any respect for Jay, but this whole thing seals the deal. He should step away from daily television and do something else and let Conan keep his earned spot. Poor Conan. He should leave NBC over this.

Anonymous said...

thanks Cadfile. That makes sense.

Anonymous said...

FNL being on NBC soon would be sweet! Yay for more scripted television!

Nicole said...

Why not put Chuck on at 10? They keep putting it in a busy slot when it could probably catch those who don't start watching television until 9 or 10.

belinda said...

If The Tonight Show is moved to midnight, I hope Conan could part with the "Tonight Show" title, take the 40 million compensation and move to a different network (Hi Fox!).

Though NBC's gaping holes do make me feel a little better about the chances of Chuck (or Parks and Recreation or Community for that matter - Here's hoping!) surviving. Fingers crossed! Then again, it makes me feel a lot worse knowing that Heroes upped its chances too.

And finally, how does the industry work in that someone like Zucker is constantly getting promoted to better and bigger jobs? I don't get it.

Anonymous said...

NBC : Nothing But Catastrophes

Anthony Foglia said...

Alan, you misnamed Carson Daly's show. When Daly got the slot it was renamed "Last Call." (I don't blame you though. I remembered the switch, but I couldn't even remember the new name off the top of my head.)

Personally I hope Conan moves to 12:05, because then I can watch his first half-hour between Colbert and Ferguson. But I don't know how Jay's show would translate to a mere half-hour. Would he have guests regularly, or just do comedy?

Conan is getting the worst of this, and I wouldn't blame him for bolting to another network.

Tausif Khan said...

It is sad that Carson Daly's talk show is over. He had an innovative presentation style which allowed his guests to feel like they were having a genuine conversation (much like Craig Ferguson). I hope he gets another talk show soon.

Rahul said...

I have a bad feeling that Conan at 12:05 wouldn't really work. After watching a Leno monologue, some sketches, and maybe an interview on the Jay Leno show, are viewers really going to be in the mood to watch another series of monologues and sketches on Conan? I don't think so, especially because his monologues will be competing with the first interview on Letterman, which is usually with a big star (not to mention that Letterman is a really entertaining interviewer).

Additionally, I think Conan at 12:05 would cause guests to strongly prefer Letterman over Conan. If a Hollywood actor is trying to decide between one show in which his interview will be shown at midnight, and another show in which his interview will be shown at 12:30, which are they gonna choose?

Tully said...

I'd love to find out what the real story is behind the 2004 announcement of the 2009 transition from Leno to Conan. Clearly, Leno was forced out against his will; either that, or 5 years seemed a lot farther away. While I've never liked Leno as Tonight Show host, I always thought he was probably a decent guy. His behavior has been lacking in grace and honor.

This '04 EW story is hilarious, especially this quote regarding the desire to avoid the Carson/Leno/Letterman boondoggle, "By sewing up the succession issue five years in advance, NBC will avoid a replay of that messy scenario." Good job NBC...you didn't replay it - you actually managed to screw it up 100 times worse.

http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,702402,00.html

Anonymous said...

NBC: Neutering Brilliant Conan

Elisa said...

From the moment that they announced Leno at 10/9c I knew that it was going to bomb and wondered if it was a way for NBC to get out from under having Leno on the air at all. This latest makes me think that maybe they werent as smart as I gave them credit for. They should have stuck with programming. But hey, if it will help get me a full season of 'Chuck,' I'll take it!!!

Billiam said...

Maybe the answer to this is obvious, but is there any reason why they couldn't move the affiliates up to 10, put Leno at 10:35 and leave everyone else where they are? Many Fox stations have news at 10:00, though this does place the news against the primetime of CBS and ABC.

filmcricket said...

Rahul, what would work in Conan's favour vs. Letterman would be location, if Conan stays in LA. I've always been convinced that's why Jay's ratings were so high during his tenure at The Tonight Show: he could get bigger stars because he was operating in their backyard.

I agree with whoever said a couple of days ago that they should just give Leno a U.S. version of "Top Gear" to do. I also think Conan should pursue a development deal somewhere else. I like Conan a lot but he's a weak interviewer, and frankly, the talk show format doesn't really play to his strengths.

Anonymous said...

Being that NBC is already in such dire straits and Leno has been a failure at 10 (and apparently incapable of going with a new format), you would think that they'd give Conan time to grow into his new role/timeslot. He had a bad start to his prior show, but sticking with him lead to it being quite successful, and there's no reason to expect that not to happen again, especially once Letterman retires. I do think Conan should have been moved up about 7 years ago, but this new idea is going to cement the idea in people's minds that he's not really the Tonight show host, and even if the new system works he'll have a ratings slump once Leno goes for good. I think the right move is to turf Leno for good and work on ways to build Conan's audience without him (first and foremost his ratings will improve when people haven't already seen an entire late night talk show at 10)

I'll also agree that I'm happy about what this means for shows like Parks and Rec, FNL and so on, but all I really want out of this situation is to see how Jack Donaghy would handle it. Seinfeldvision perhaps?

Anonymous said...

NBC: Network Blows Chunks

Anonymous said...

We lost Southland on network tv for this mess?

Anonymous said...

I can't believe that ANYONE thought that five days of primetime talk show would work. Then add that those five days would be hosted by Jay Leno. Aw hells no.

I don't hate Leno, but I don't know of anyone who is flicking channels at 8/9 who says, "Where's my Leno!?" For a lot of people Leno is the Denny's of late night. You don't intend to go there. You just end up there because you are tipsy and damn hungry for food in whatever form it takes. We aren't there yet at primetime.

I'm not an insider so I don't know whether to be sorry for Leno who may have been massaged into a bad idea, or for the exec who may have been bullied into a bad idea -- but DUDE the writing was a bottlerocket in the butt waiting to meet Youtube. Everyone involved should be fired for being an idiot.

Conan and Fallon seem a savvy enough to navigate from here on out. I have no advice, except to put everything through the "Dude Simulator." If you can imagine a doped-up teen saying "Dude, you know what would be cool...." Don't.

dez said...

I feel sorry for the workers on Leno's show who are also getting effed over by NBC. This whole clusterf*ck isn't just affecting Jay & Conan & some affiliates.

Anonymous said...

Jimmy Fallon is savvy? I'm pretty sure he's just happy to have a job, and will gladly take whatever offer he gets. While Conan's stock may have dropped, he's probably still in a good position to play NBC and FOX against each other and get something he wants.

Dan said...

Matt hit the nail on the head:

"People who want "comedy" at 10 may not want Jay Leno at 10. Put Modern Family on at 10? It delivers decent numbers."

Interesting that ABC moved Ugly Betty to Wed. at 10 creating an all-comedy block that night. Comedies work at 10 on Cable and Pay networks. They can work on network, if they're scripted and well-done. Not stand-up with obvious punchlines.

lambertman said...

Of course, the ratings showed last week they didn't want Ugly Betty either.

Just Karl said...

I would let Conan go. Leno is a brand that people are comfortable with. This failure will be quickly forgotten. Fallon is perfect for 12:35.

Conan would air at 10:30 or 11:00 on Fox? I doubt he'd get much lead in from Fox News at 10. He'd do better on Comedy Central after the Colbert Report.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Kimmel needs to be moved up to 11:30 on ABC instead of 12:00. Nightline should be moved to 10 pm and run 5 days a week.

Anonymous said...

I never found Leno funny, then I saw his show live and found Leno to be a tool. I thought maybe I shouldn't judge him on one day. However, this mess reinforces my initial opinion. Dude's a tool. Conan got screwed royally by NBC and I feel for the guy. I don't get why NBC is rewarding Leno's failure. Then again, I don't get a lot of NBC's decisions.

amyp3 said...

"We lost Southland on network tv for this mess?"

We lost Kings? (And can we somehow blame the cancellation two years ago of Journeyman on Jay Leno?)

I wish NBC would pick up Better off Ted -- maybe make Thursday night a three-hour sitcom bloc.

And for more, see my blog. ("My Dead Cat Could Run NBC Better, AKA Jeff Zucker's Reign of Error.")

Tyro.k.y said...

Tausif Khan, I agree with you about Last Call.

Matter or fact I think that's the style of show that should be on at 10 if you're going to do a "late night"-esque show.

You have the usual interviews, music, and comedy while balancing it with cultural education, various business promotions, and varying landscape.

Every episode would be unique but the same. It would be different enough to feel new each time you watched it.

The only problem I had with Carson's show was the cinematography was too over the top. But there is much untapped potential in Carson's last call.

Unfortunately, Jay Leno can't pull that off.

Tyroc said...

They are completely screwing Conan, who hung around for five years when he could have made a lot more money elsewhere.

I really don't understand why they didn't launch Jay during the summer when he would be up against repeats and ideally do much better than he did against new episodes of huge shows.

Couldn't they now put Leno on at 7pm where the Access Hollywoods of the world now air on NBC affiliates? That early bird time-slot seems a better fit for Jay's aging audience even if Jay still sees himself as a late night guy.

Anonymous said...

FOX can offer that job that Conan wants: to live in Spain and give him that dollar a day to write weird things for Mr. Burns to say.

There's definitely a better chance he'd take that now.

Seriously, even if Fox gave him 80% of what he earns now that'd be enough, right? He'd be the first priority there and if he'd put them in #1 or #2 they could do some incentive structure to reward him. Having said that, is Conan loyal to NBC because they gave him a chance when he was basically an unknown staff writer on some shows and then the stretch when he was struggling on the late show. Though maybe those particular NBC execs are gone?

Blue Sunflower said...

WTH? People here think Conan's the one getting screwed? Helloooo - he's the one who STARTED this whole thing by insisting on Leno's show while Leno was STILL HOSTING IT. NBC just compounded the problem by kissing Conan's butt and promising him Leno's show, and pretty much telling Leno he'd be fired in 5 years.

LENO'S the one who's been screwed here. Conan gets what he deserves. He should have just left NBC 5 years ago, instead of demanding someone else's job. Such a baby.

LB said...

Conan never insisted on anything. I'm not sure where that assessment is coming from. If you read back the articles from years before, it was sort of accepted that a change needed to be made. By the time Conan's last contract was up, everyone knew and acknowledged that. 17 years in the same job without a promotion - the writing was on the wall.

Leno didn't have to agree to NBC's plan. He could have fought back and honestly should have if he didn't want to retire. He could have played hardball. But he rolled over, claiming to be a company man. He was dishonest. I think deep down he always knew there was a chance to move him to another time slot.

This mess is mostly on NBC for being unwilling to choose. But it's partially on Leno for screwing people over for a third time because he was not upfront about what he wanted. NBC and Leno deserve each other. I hope Conan bails.

dez said...

I never found Leno funny, then I saw his show live and found Leno to be a tool.

What did he do that was toolish?

And I agree with LB that this mess is on NBC and partially on Leno. Conan definitely should take the contract money and run.

Anonymous said...

Any news on when "Rex is Not Your Lawyer" is planned to air? I'm hoping Tennant will be able to do the "Burke & Hare" movie, but Rex might scupper that since B & H is supposed to start filming very soon.

Anonymous said...

I never really liked Jimmy Fallon before his late night show. He has been dorky, adorable, awkward, funny, and hard working since his show began and has won me over with a competent and charming staff behind the scenes (writers, bloggers, etc.) and on Camera (The Roots, Higgins). I certainly don't think he or Conan should have to move even further into late night. I like them where they are.
If anyone should be ousted from the late night talk world, its Leno. At this point in their careers who will be able to adapt more Leno or O'Brien?
Also, Leno has had his time in the sun. If NBC thinks they can move Leno around and get all their old viewers back, then they deserve to lose 40 million dollars to Conan.

G.H. said...

NBC should do the one thing no has mentioned: simply put Conan on at 10. His show would be SO much better than Leno. I blame Leno as well, his show was horrible, lackluster, and had no imagination applied to it whatsoever. I mean come on, couldn't they come up with a better title than "The Jay Leno Show"? How lazy is that?

Jo said...

I DVR the Tonight Show and watch it the next morning while I'm getting ready for my classes. I actually agree with G.H. I would rather watch Conan at 10 live, commercials and all.

Anonymous said...

Conans ratings have been weak! His comedy isnt main stream...you either love it or hate it...to be honest when I was in college I loved Conan...but he does the same jokes over and over so I stopped watching his show...Fergeson is much better!