Late night television is becoming more like the film, “Groundhog Day,” when the same scenario is played over and over again. Late night TV host Jay Leno is up to lose his job in the same scenario, roles reversed, as he and Conan O’Brien battled it out three years ago.
This time around, Leno is being “thrown from the throne” on “The Tonight Show,” but doesn’t have an old job he can land safely in.
After the time slot battle three years ago, O’Brien landed on TBS and may actually see himself on the late night circuit long after Leno is gone.
To add more salt to the wound, Leno is leading in late night ratings, compared to his rivals, David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel.
His latest monologues have been slung at NBC’s ratings and he even flings a bit of testiness at the executives, calling them “snakes.”
This is probably not the way the “Tonight Show” host wanted to go down after two decades of television glitz and glamour, although there isn’t much he can do. His graceful exit from the midst of the late night talk show cage came around years ago and he didn’t want to open the door. Now the older bird may go down in flames.
The New York Times’ late night authority, Bill Carter, states that his report speculates NBC wanting to replace Leno with Jimmy Fallon by fall of 2014.
Part of the plan back in 2009 was that NBC gave Leno a show that aired every night at 10, while O’Brien was to be handed “The Tonight Show.” The plan was to take place over a five-year period.
Leno’s show happened to slow in ratings and he was asked if he wanted to move back to the 11:35 time slot. Leno stated if it were offered, then yes, if that’s what they wanted him to do.
NBC used a clause in O’Brien’s contract and moved “The Tonight Show” to the 12:05 slot and placed Leno’s show in the 11:35 rung. O’Brien didn’t take kindly to the slap in the face and opted to leave. He moved to TBS instead.
O’Brien’s move to TBS may have been a wise choice. He may still be one of the “top dogs” once Leno is in the doghouse. Leno’s 2009 choice has limited his prospects.
Fallon and Kimmel battle it out for the younger audience during their time slots. Leno is winning with the 18 to 49 year olds but Kimmel is coming up close behind him. Kimmel has moved to 11:35 and he is averaging 936,000 viewers in the age group, while Leno is at 1,017,000.