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.