Shame On NBC

Jay Leno saying goodbye.

Jay Leno saying goodbye.

Shame On NBC

 Last night Jay Leno said a tearful farewell to his audience of 22 years. Though I don’t usually watch late night talk shows because they’re mainly a forum to hype somebody’s movie, music, book or career, I watched Jay’s last show and my reaction was that the executives at NBC are idiots.

Though not a big fan, I’ve always thought Jay Leno was a class act in a world of lesser lights. The American public thought so too. They made the Tonight Show the top-rated show in its time slot for more than two decades.

So being booted from the boob tube, even though you’re number one, makes no sense to me. NBC is going with the younger, but largely unproven, Jimmy Fallon to replace Leno and attract a more youthful audience. I have nothing against Fallon, but I can state that he’s no Jay Leno or Johnny Carson.

So who are the winners and losers in this late-night shake-up?

The biggest loser, and I can’t help but feel sorry for him, is Leno himself. He obviously would have liked to continue doing his show, and it seems highly unfair that you would headline the most popular show in late night and be unceremoniously dumped. Jay Leno is fabulously wealthy, famous, known by everyone, but what really mattered to him was doing his show, and taking it away was a chickenshit move.

I predict NBC will also be a big loser. I doubt that the network will be able to retain its standing as having the most popular late night talk show for much longer. I might be wrong about this, and I suspect more young people will tune in to Fallon, but I think a lot of young people won’t, because they’re just not into watching much network TV, so I think the risks of NBC’s rash decision far outweigh the benefits.

The winner in all this is David Letterman and CBS. He’s been busting his butt for many years to try to take over the top position in late night. Now, NBC’s stupidity will probably hand him the dominance he’s strived for so long.

Another objection I have is that the show is moving to New York. Why? Can’t Fallon host the show in California where it’s been for decades? There was a certain balance before, with Letterman in New York City and Leno in Burbank.

And the big picture is that capitalism, or simple money grubbing, may be the evil force behind this change. It’s easier to sell stuff to a younger audience. They’re more open to new products and less resistant than older folks and once you get them as your customers, they have more years ahead of them to buy your products. So the TV networks worship youth, and are ready to toss away successful shows not because of the numbers, but because their demographics are too old and stodgy.

It’s a shame what NBC did to Jay Leno. Loyal service and excellence should be rewarded, not tossed on the scrap heap. I hope it backfires on NBC and some of their top executives soon join Jay in the ranks of the unemployed.

7 responses to “Shame On NBC

  1. Not a big Leno fan here, Ron, mainly because he used to be funny but seemed mostly to be mailing it in as the host of the Tonight Show, but agree with you in one respect.

    Jimmy Fallon’s credentials are that he is young, amiable, and good-looking. When I first saw his show shortly after he began, it was clear he was totally ill at ease as a talk show host. Watched him again a few times recently, and it is clear he is totally ill at ease as a talk show host. He needs Tina Fey to make him funny.

    If Fallon succeeds it will be through hype alone. He just doesn’t have it. And yes, he makes Jay Leno look like Johnny Carson.

  2. Dear Ron,

    I am happy to say I went all 22 years without ever watching Jay Leno for more time than it took to change the channel. Not because he was bad but because I never thought him funny. That’s neither here nor there, just taste in late night hosts, per se. Letterman was always my favorite and, again, neither here nor there. Networks are committees and a committee is, to quote Heinlein, a life form with many legs and no brains. I recently wrote to CNN and told them that their choice of Piers Morgan was a huge mistake and that I would not knowingly watch CNN until he was gone. Told them I’d send a copy of my letter to their sponsors, too. Voting with our feet is all we can do. That and make your voice heard, as you did, with what you hope are like minded people.

    As for Jay, well, as you say, he’s fabulously wealthy. he and Seinfeld can get together for lunch and cry alligator tears for each other.

    I hope you fare well in the future and in your hunt for late night solace.



  3. Dear Ron,

    You are mostly right-on with your analysis of the recent events regarding Jay Leno departure for The Tonight Show. However, not all is probably seen by the public.

    We watched Johnny Carson and Jay Leno for many years. In a head-to-head comparison with Johnny Carson’s performance, Jay would probably come in a close second. Nevertheless, his show was rated ahead of his competition, David Letterman. And Jay’s biggest attribute was his KINDNESS. Jay was a CLASS ACT.

    What we don’t have readily available to us is the profitability of the show. Sometimes high rates does not necessarily equate to high profits. An inkling to the profit problems was the recent story that Jay cut his pay in half to avoid NBC laying off several staff members.

    In addition, we don’t know NBC’s long term strategic objectives (and sometime I think they don’t know neither, ha). But if NBC’s advertising revenue is shrinking due to the Jay Leno’s audience growing older, then NBC has to do something different. And if higher advertising revenue will result from attracting a young audience who is willing to spend more money than the older audience – will so be it. Sometime the progress of change is unavoidable, risky, and gut-wrenching. But not making a change may be a death march.

    I am part of the older audience and I want to watch Jay Leno. But times are changing … And I will say that NBC’s public-relations could have handled the change much better. And it did not help NBC’s image when they stumbled with their first attempt at making this change. I am just sorry, for a personal point of view, to see Jay Leno go.

    Unless, if Jimmy Fallon cannot attract the younger audience in sufficient numbers — and retain a portion of the older audience — to attract high profit advertising revenue, then there will most likely be more changes, including NBC’s executives.


  4. We don’t get it over here but his appearance of Homicide:Life on The Street was my third favourite celebrity cameo ever (after Marissa Tomei on Seinfeld and Laurence Llewellyn Bowen on the League of Gentlemen).

  5. I adore Jay Leno, ever since he took over for Johnny Carson (who could be) very blunt and downright rude at times, but was the King of Comedy. Jay is a true gentleman and didn’t take too many partisan sides over the years thus keeping himself on an even keel in political waters. He is a kind-hearted, talented comic with many good laugh-years left in him.

    I will miss him because we, the baby-boomers, are the last generation that know what a good talk show host should be – funny and entertaining. A good way to wind down the day and end it on a lighter note. Jay had me at the “Judge Ito’s Dancers” several years ago thus cementing his place in our funny bones.

    Jimmy Fallon, while being extremely talented, does not have the polish that will sustain him. The younger audience that NBC so wants, watch different shows at night – I know because we have 4 of them in our family not counting their wives. NBC should have learned their lesson when they chose Conan over Jay with disastrous results. Well, NBC should stand for the Never Been Correct network with too many bottom-notch execs making poor decisions. Oh well, they deserve what they get, and unfortunately, we will pay for their arrogance and flawed reasoning. I think they will disappear into oblivion and Jay will ride off into the sunset in one of his magnificent touring machines.

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