Late night shakeup: NBC pulls plug on Jay Leno Show, but not Jay Leno

By: Tim Ciesco Email
By: Tim Ciesco Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - A little more than four months after its debut, NBC announced Sunday it was done with the hour long Jay Leno Show, but not necessarily with the talk show host. And that could mean major changes in your NBC Channel 11 TV lineup.

After days of rumors and late-night monologue wisecracks, NBC confirmed what many expected: the Jay Leno Show is coming to an end.

"Sometimes they work and sometimes they don't work so well," says Jeff Gaspin, NBC Universal Television Entertainment chairman. "But you have to take risks in business."

Cheaper to produce than a primetime series or reality show, NBC executives say The Jay Leno Show was meeting their expectations financially. But they ultimately decided to pull the plug on the show after several NBC affiliates complained its lackluster ratings were hurting viewer numbers for their night time newscasts.

"Nine to 10 is a bad time," says Grand Junction TV viewer David, who asked 11 News not to use his last name. "People have other shows they want to watch that are serials, evening soaps so to speak. That's the way we are."

Reports indicate some affiliates had even threatened to drop the five-day-a-week show from their evening lineups.

"I always felt it would have been smarter if they had done Jay Leno from 10:30 to 11 p.m., then Conan from 11 to 12 a.m.," said David.

And that's just what NBC is looking at doing. Not ready to give up on Leno, the network says it wants to give him a half hour show during his old 10:35 p.m. time slot. It would then push back The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon 30 minutes each.

NBC executives says talks with all three are ongoing and the lineup change is not a done deal.

"They were incredibly gracious," says Gaspin. "They said they understood the difficult position that NBC was in."

NBC says The Jay Leno Show will end when the 2010 Winter Olympics start on Feb. 12.

The network says it is still trying to figure out what replace Leno from 9 to 10 p.m., but hopes to have that all sorted out by the time the Olympics start.

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