In 2004, NBC announced that Jay Leno would be stepping down from the legendary Tonight Show and Conan O’Brian would move up to the 11:35 slot in the schedule….in 2009. It turns out Jay wasn’t quite ready to retire, as in December 2008, NBC announced a new show to air at 10pm, 5 nights a week- The Jay Leno Show. NBC eliminated 5 hours of scripted television from it’s primetime schedule. This didn’t just eliminate shows, it eliminated jobs from the entertainment industry. From actors, writers, producers down to those that work in craft services. Shows like Southland (thankfully resercuted on TNT), possibly Life, and who knows what great shows were developed during pilot season that we will never get to know weren’t given a chance to air because Leno wasn’t ready to walk away. For NBC, five nights of Leno was the cheapest show they had.
Conan took over the Tonight Show in 2009 as planned. he moved his family and staff across the country, from New York to L.A. Ratings weren’t as high as Leno’s. And Leno at 10PM failed. (I never watched it once. Not even when there was nothing else on…I just turned the TV off). And instead of cancelling Jay, like NBC has done to EVERY other show that in their eyes has not lived up to expectations, they are giving him a “second chance”…by giving him back the 11:35 spot and moving the “Tonight” Show to 12:05. (TMZ is now reporting that Leno will get the full hour again since Conan’s announcement that he would not follow Leno.)
How is this fair? I realize life isnt’ fair. I’m an adult. I get that. But why does Jay get a second chance? And I realize that Conan isn’t beating Dave Letterman like Leno was but….Leno was hurting NBC’s ratings at 10, therefore bringing down the ratings for the 11 ‘oclock news. Guess what that did for Conan? (And yeah, Jay was beating Letterman and Conan wasn’t. Jay had 2 years to accomplish that. Plus had strong lead-ins)
I have never willingly watched Jay Leno, whether it be his 10PM show or when he had the Tonight Show. And this will continue. I’ve been comparing this situation to Mark Martin. Mark Martin retired from NASCAR in 2005. He then decided to go “part-time” (we’ll compare this to the 10PM show) He and another driver shared a ride for the season. Turns out…Mark still had it. And he got a full time ride again. And yeah, he stole that from the young talent (Conan). And he’s won races and made the Chase (the “playoff” of NASCAR) I guarantee you though, if Mark doesn’t perform anymore, he’ll be done, he won’t go to Jack Roush and ask for his old ride back.
I don’t care if this is NBC’s fault and Conan is a whiny baby and the Jay was “forced” out because NBC didn’t want to lose Conan. He shouldn’t have agreed to the deal in the first place and made a scene about it then. And now, he should bow out gracefully. As for me, it looks like I can go to bed earlier now.