This morning NBC is conducting it's Executive Tour with critics and media outlets. Right from the get go they addressed the late night rumors/stories that have circulated this week in regards to Leno and Conan. Here is what NBC executive Jeff Gaspin said:
"I can confirm that starting Feb. 12, Jay Leno will no longer air at 10 p.m.," said NBC Universal TV chairman Jeff Gaspin to reporters at the critics press tour in Pasadena. "While it was performing at acceptable levels, [our affiliates were unhappy] ... My goal right now is to keep Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien and Jimmy Fallon as part of our late-night lineup. As much as I'd like to tell you we a have a done deal, we know that's not true."
This raises the issue of will Leno move to his half hour show at 11:35 pm and will Conan move to a 12:05 am spot? In all honesty, this will not work and will never happen. Doing this is a total d*** move by NBC. They have essentially told Conan that he does not matter to the network and all they want to do is kiss Leno's ass. NBC is trying to save face now by saying that they all matter and they would love nothing more than to keep them on the network, but I don't think that is going to happen. NBC and Leno collectively have killed late night on NBC forever. They did this when they moved Leno's Tonight Show to 10:00 pm. This killed the lead in to the local news, which leads in to the Tonight Show. Leno knew this would happen, but NBC was oblivious. And it all was because NBC was grasping at straws to try and get an audience. Instead of developing and sticking with scripted programming, they figured that Leno's audience would join him at 10:00 just because they put him there. This proves to not only critics, but the general public as well, that they have absolutely no idea what they are doing with their programming. Yet in all of this mess Zucker continues to be promoted. WTF?!
NBC is claiming that if it were up to them they would keep Leno at 10:00, but the affiliates are complaining. Really NBC? This is your excuse? How about when the affiliates are complaining about the lack of over-all shows and programming? Or did they need to call the help desk in India for that to get to you? But now there is no going back, someone here is going to have to budge, and the person they want to do that is Conan. Personally I don't think he should. Mr. O'Brien, if you are reading this...here is my solution and how you can really make NBC pay in more ways than one.
1) Leave NBC. No matter how good you are to them as a person, Zucker will always have a hard on for Leno. But because of the contract he came up with for you, it may be his downfall as well. If you leave, or they take you off the air, they still have to pay you the rest of your contract ($20 million each year for 4 years). However, if you were to taken off of the air and get a show on a network, NBC still has to pay you but only in the difference what the new network isn't. (Ex. Fox pays you $15 million a year, NBC would then have to fork over the other $5 million a year because it's the value of your contract.) Which leads to No. 2...
2) Whatever network you end up at, have them only pay you $1.00. Not only will you kill NBC in the press, and in ratings, but NBC would actually be paying another network to air their competition. This would be the ultimate middle-finger to old Jeff Z., and when Comcast takes over later this year, they would probably show him to the door. A trap door.
Personally, I really hope that Conan doesn't cave in. I know that he loves it at NBC, he loves The Tonight Show, and he loves his crew. I don't see him wanting to put them out of work. He went through this with the WGA strike, and now would be an even worse time for them to be out of a job. But they way they have treated him by doing this is just humiliating. Now, I know some of you love Leno, and I think he's a good guy. But let's face it, he's a better stand-up and guest than a talk show host. His show was not, and is not, funny. His best bits were stolen from Letterman, and done way better by Dave. Moving it to 10:00 pm just made the un-funny more apparent to the rest of the country. At 11:30 you'll watch anything when you're falling asleep.
Some of you may not like Conan, I understand. He is different than what you are used to, but much like when Carson took over, his new audience is the one that will grow old with him. Leno kept some of Carson's audience, and the others left. But there is a new audience you are trying to get and Conan is your source. You can't fully blame low ratings on him. Why? Because you can't advertise your show to a network audience that isn't there.
Your move Conan. I'll see you where ever you land.
POPping For Team Conan - Jungle Jesse