12 January 2010

Why Jay Leno should resign

At this point in time, NBC cannot save face for Jay Leno or Conan O'Brien. One of them will have to leave, and despite what some will say, it's Jay Leno who should resign and head over to any network that will have him. As pointed out by O'Brien in his open letter (below), this began five years ago when NBC was faced with keeping him or losing him to another network. To keep him, he was to get The Tonight Show. While many thought this could be a problem -after all it pushed Leno out after only 17 years as host of the classic series, but he was still beating David Letterman - no one could have foreseen the problems of today. Or if the did, they were like people who buy a new furniture set with payments plan deferred for year, and hoping by the time they have to pay, they'll have come up with the money. So the proverbial situation has come home to roost. And NBC has epically failed at solving the problem created five years ago.

While Conan is not every ones cup of tea, he does deserve a chance as host of The Tonight Show. Forcing the show back a half hour so Jay Leno can air an abbreviated version of his unfunny prime time show is pointless.

So the only idea situation is let Leno go and let Conan O'Brien do what was promised to him five years ago. And being in fourth place, was does NBC have to lose further? It has a crapfest of a schedule, it gets rid of shows that are doing good (Chuck being one of them; and they had to backpedal on that one), and everyone knows Southland was directly canceled because of The Jay Leno Show. Sure NBC says the ratings were the cause of the shows demise (cut even before it could start airing its second season), but it was creative, smart and better than all the Law & Order series put together.

Sure if Leno resigns, the odds are he'll be picked up by FOX or ABC to star in another late night talk show which would air opposite of The Tonight Show. It's something NBC feared five years ago, but time and tide is now forcing this to happen. What it clearly says about NBC's feeling about Conan O'Brien is they don't think he can be a ratings success that Leno was. And that's got to hurt O'Brien.

Conan O'Brien, in a letter released to press, finally talks about the situation at the 4th place network:

People of Earth:

In the last few days, I've been getting a lot of sympathy calls, and I
want to start by making it clear that no one should waste a second
feeling sorry for me. For 17 years, I've been getting paid to do what I
love most and, in a world with real problems, I've been absurdly lucky.
That said, I've been suddenly put in a very public predicament and my
bosses are demanding an immediate decision.

Six years ago, I signed a contract with NBC to take over The Tonight
Show in June of 2009. Like a lot of us, I grew up watching Johnny Carson
every night and the chance to one day sit in that chair has meant
everything to me. I worked long and hard to get that opportunity, passed
up far more lucrative offers, and since 2004 I have spent literally
hundreds of hours thinking of ways to extend the franchise long into the
future. It was my mistaken belief that, like my predecessor, I would
have the benefit of some time and, just as important, some degree of
ratings support from the prime-time schedule. Building a lasting
audience at 11:30 is impossible without both.

But sadly, we were never given that chance. After only seven months,
with my Tonight Show in its infancy, NBC has decided to react to their
terrible difficulties in prime-time by making a change in their
long-established late night schedule.

Last Thursday, NBC executives told me they intended to move the Tonight
Show to 12:05 to accommodate the Jay Leno Show at 11:35. For 60 years
the Tonight Show has aired immediately following the late local news. I
sincerely believe that delaying the Tonight Show into the next day to
accommodate another comedy program will seriously damage what I consider
to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting. The Tonight
Show at 12:05 simply isn't the Tonight Show. Also, if I accept this move
I will be knocking the Late Night show, which I inherited from David
Letterman and passed on to Jimmy Fallon, out of its long-held time slot.
That would hurt the other NBC franchise that I love, and it would be
unfair to Jimmy.

So it has come to this: I cannot express in words how much I enjoy
hosting this program and what an enormous personal disappointment it is
for me to consider losing it. My staff and I have worked unbelievably
hard and we are very proud of our contribution to the legacy of The
Tonight Show. But I cannot participate in what I honestly believe is its
destruction. Some people will make the argument that with DVRs and the
Internet a time slot doesn't matter. But with the Tonight Show, I
believe nothing could matter more.

There has been speculation about my going to another network but, to set
the record straight, I currently have no other offer and honestly have
no idea what happens next. My hope is that NBC and I can resolve this
quickly so that my staff, crew, and I can do a show we can be proud of,
for a company that values our work.

Have a great day and, for the record, I am truly sorry about my hair;
it's always been that way.


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