Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Late-night no more

You all know that I love my late-night TV. What better way to wind down the work day than with the six million internet errands and emails I have to take care of while (hopefully) interesting people talk and play music? Being in Central Time, late-night TV starts at 10pm with Jon Stewart. Imagine my surprise, then, to see that NBC is going to retain Jay Leno by giving him an hourlong weeknight show at 10pm (EST).

I always thought that NBC was nuts for retaining Conan by promising him the Tonight Show without OKing it with Jay. I simply couldn't see what they were going to do with him. This is seen as a cost-saving measure, since his show will cost so much less than an hourlong drama and fill up five days to boot. The exact format will be worked out in the three months that he will take to format the new show, incidentally retaining his studio, though not the Tonight Show name. Sorry, Conan, there goes part of your historical cachet. (God only knows what Conan, who is characterized as fiercely competitive, thinks of all this -- I remember reading that he hit the roof when Stewart was raking up the Emmys a few years ago, considering the hours that he fills up while Stewart does a half-hour show fewer days per week, fewer weeks per year. Can't imagine he's delighted to have someone crashing his party).

I'm also shocked at Leno's workaholicness. Any other person might want to take some time to travel, or at least I personally would have bargained for Fridays off like Stewart/Colbert, and less weeks of work (46 weeks, according to the heavily leaked bargain). I guess he really does love what he does.

This is probably the only way a show like this can break into prime-time: an established name with the connections to bring in other established names (assuming that he continues to interview) and the heft to lean on NBC brass to keep going if the show doesn't take off like a rocket in the first few weeks. All I can say is, if Jimmy Fallon was hoping for any real buzz around his Conan replacement debut, I think it's just officially been killed.

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