Friday, January 22, 2010

Congrats Jay

I am a Jay Leno fan. There. I said it upfront. I know that's not the popular opinion these days, as both Jay and Conan O'Brien, who took over the venerable Tonight Show from Jay 7 months ago while Jay moved to 10pm prime time, have disappointed in ratings in their new slots, and now NBC wants to move Leno back to the 11:30 time slot. Initially they wanted Conan to continue hosting the tonight show at midnight after Jay hosted a 30 minute show. Conan refused, and has as of today negotiated a release with NBC; tonight is his last show.

This has caused an uproar, as it is the more popularly-held belief that Conan O'Brien is funnier than Leno, and is being screwed. I agree with the latter point - O'Brien wasn't given a lot of time to build an audience, and NBC handled the transition wrong in many ways. But I'm a bigger fan of Jay's work, and tend to agree with Ari (who faced massive disagreement on Facebook this week) that the biggest part of the reason it was Conan NBC set out to sea and not Jay, was that Jay is funnier, or at least that NBC considers him to be a more reliable ratings provider.

I have to say I felt some vindication today then when I learned Jay Leno had been tapped as the keynote comedian at the White House Press Correspondents dinner - a spot held in the past by such luminaries as Stephen Colbert. He'll get to entertain the Obamas and those who cover them for a living. But even bigger news, he's going on OPRAH next week! YEAH! :D

As far as the ultimate results of the 2o10 redux edition of the battle of late night - Conan O'Brien's last show, as previously stated, will be tonight (it's on the air now in fact); Jay will continue at 10pm, and the O'Brien Tonight Show will continue in reruns, until the Olympics in mid-February, when both will be preempted. Once the Olympic Break is over, Jay will resume 11:35 Tonight Show hosting duties. Conan will be free to explore other offers in September.

My best wishes to both men, sincerely - I am not a major fan of Conan's, but he IS funny to a certain degree, has a large fanbase, and more importantly is a hard worker with a family to support. I hope he finds a company that appreciates him, treats him well, and is a better fit for his talents. :) Good luck to all, as 11:30 has just become a three-way race come the fall.

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