Here we go again. Rumors are flying and the Internet is buzzing with chatter about NBC replacing Jay Leno on “The Tonight Show.” I don’t know what it is about Leno that makes NBC want to kick him around.
Remember when then NBC honcho, Jeff Zucker, came up with the brilliant idea of pushing Jay Leno into a primetime show and handing over the “Tonight Show” to the younger, quirky, funnyman Conan O’Brien — at the time the host of “Late Night.”
Leno was still at the top of his game, but bowed out of the “Tonight Show” in May of 2009. The plan failed miserably in the ratings. By early 2010, NBC was scrambling to put out the fires of a hot, ugly controversy and to get Leno back behind the “Tonight Show” desk.
Oh, and what happened to the NBC topper who hatched that scheme? By September of 2010, Zucker was writing his farewell e-mail to NBC employees and looking for a new job. Now, Zucker is heading up the struggling CNN Worldwide. We’ll see how that goes.
So here we are in 2013, and the word is NBC executives got a new plan to send Leno off into retirement in 2014, and promote the much younger Jimmy Fallon from “Late Night” to “The Tonight Show.”
I gotta admit, I ‘m a Jay Leno fan who also digs Fallon. I watch “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” every now and then and enjoy it. Fallon has got a cool style and a nice groove. However, is Fallon ready to make the move to the more conventional and legendary”Tonight Show?” Well, that’s being debated a lot now. The other part of that question, why is NBC contemplating such a maneuver at this time?
It must be due to low ratings. Not the case. Leno is beating newcomer and ABC rival, Jimmy Kimmel, in “… the 18-49 demo most important to advertisers, in the 25-54 demographic most often used to gauge late night audiences, and in total viewers,” according to The Wrap. Also, Leno trounced Kimmel in the recent February sweeps, a point brought up on Deadline, which is covering this late night transition speculation as well.
Whatever the reason, NBC is not saying anything official right now. There are reports Leno took a meeting with NBC executives last Thursday night. No word yet on what was discussed or how the meeting went.
Last night during his monologue, Leno continued to make jokes about his pending job loss. And right he should. Leno may not be able to change his fate, but he can get in some parting shots.