About 2.8 million people tuned in to Sunday’s Conan O’Brien-hosted MTV Movie Awards, a million fewer viewers (-27%) than last year’s show. The 2013 trophy show clocked 3.8 million total viewers — up compared to previous year’s 3.2 …
Jay Leno Bows Out With Biggest ‘Tonight Show’ Week In Decades; Ditto Jimmy Fallon’s ‘Late Night’ Swan Song
Jay Leno‘s Tonight Show swan song churned up the franchise’s biggest weekly crowd since the week of NBC’s Cheers finale in ’93. Meanwhile, his replacement, Jimmy Fallon wrapped his Late Night hosting gig with that show’s biggest weekly haul since it followed Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show farewell, in May of ’92.
Leno’s actual Thursday night finale last week clocked the biggest crowd for an individual Tonight show broadcast since Jerry Seinfeld turned up after his primetime hit’s so-long episode, on May 14, 1998.
Most of the coverage has been about Leno taking with him a commanding ratings lead in late-night, not only among total viewers but also in the 18-49 age bracket advertisers covet. And in the days leading up to his exit, The Reporters Who Cover Television dusted off think pieces about Leno leaving the show in the wake of a demographic shift affecting millions of baby boomers who are being pushed aside to make way for a younger generation with different sensibilities. In many ways, Leno’s handoff to Fallon does mirror the first time the press wrote those think pieces, when NBC replaced Leno with his lead-out, Conan O’Brien in 2009 – a plan that famously flamed out over seven months.
But the bigger news here is the incredible gift Leno’s been given: a handoff do-over.
It’s a loaded gift for Leno. He owes much of his ratings success, and longevity, to the fact that he’s much adored in flyover country — Leno won last month’s 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll asking which late-night host was most likely to make you laugh, handily beating his latest replacement Fallon, his first replacement O’Brien, David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel, and Craig Ferguson. But the media doesn’t like Leno so much, having pegged him decades ago as the closet-hiding, eavesdropper who backstabbed their late-night crushes Letterman and, later, O’Brien.
Jay Leno says farewell – again – to the Tonight Show desk on February 6, just four years after returning to the NBC show after the network booted him in favor of Conan O’Brien. “First time, I got blindsided,” Leno told 60 Minutes in an exit interview airing Sunday. The network gave him notice in 2004 that he’d be out after another four years. “‘You’re fired four years from right now,’” he recalled being told. “I said, ‘Sure.’ I said at the time I was going to do a half hour. And I believe Conan was going to follow later. He didn’t want to do that. He quit. And so they gave me the show back.” After a disastrous run on primetime in 2009 with The Jay Leno Show, NBC gave Leno back the Tonight Show chair. Last April they announced they were ousting Leno again in favor of the younger Jimmy Fallon. “It’s not my decision,” said Leno. “And I think I probably would have stayed if we didn’t have… an extremely qualified, young guy ready to jump in. If they said, ‘Look, you’re fired. We don’t know who we’re going to get. We don’t know what we’re going to put in there. But anybody but you, we just want you out of–’ I would be hurt and offended. But this makes perfect sense to me. I understand this.”
An old Conan promo that simulated the nails-on-chalkboard sounds of the Emergency Alert System looks have cost TBS $25,000. The Federal Communications Commission this week alerted TBS it is slapping the cable network with a fine in that amount over a 2012 Conan promo it telecast that used the well-known sounds intended to warn viewers of national emergencies.
The FCC — the government agency charged with fining those who misuse the distinctive EAS sounds — has given Turner notice of the fine for “the transmission of false distress signals,” unless it can dissuade the commission within 30 days.
The FCC this past February launched an investigation into a viewer complaint about a 2012 promo for TBS’s Conan O’Brien late-night show. Turner admitted, the FCC said, that it produced and distributed a promotion, for use prior to April 26, 2012, that included a “sound effect” in part derived from an online source, which the network insisted was not part of the actual EAS code, but did include a prerecorded “sound burst” followed by a “bars and tone” sound. Turner “admits that the promotion was not made in connection with an actual national, state or local emergency or authorized test of the EAS,” the FCC said. Turner also argued the promo was produced within such a “tight timeframe” that the production team never submitted it for S&P review. Since May of ’12, all promos for Conan’s show have undergone S&P scrutiny, TBS pledged, according to the FCC.
Turner declined comment on Wednesday.
Turner Entertainment seems to try hardest to make advertisers laugh at its upfront presentation — and generally succeeded this time with help from Will Ferrell, Conan O’Brien, and TBS newcomer Pete Holmes. In a recorded routine, Ferrell said that he had bought the company and with his background in comedy “I couldn’t care less” about networks including CNN, TNT, and TruTv. Since “I like to mess around with my new toys,” he introduced the new boss: Charles Barkley. The former NBA star said that since “I’m in charge now” viewers would be “seeing a lot more Charles Barkley” — cutting to clips from Turner shows that insert him into the action. “This is the kind of bold thinking I was hoping for,” Ferrell said. “With me as CEO of Turner, and Charles, can you really go wrong?”
3RD UPDATE, 3:40 PM: Psy is the only act to get 1 billion hits on YouTube with his “Gangnam Style” video, and his follow-up video “Gentleman” is already past 232M views. He has been tapped to join CBS News’ table at tomorrow’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner alongside the likes of Homeland‘s Claire Danes and her husband, Hannibal‘s Hugh Dancy.
2ND UPDATE, 8:10 AM: One day before the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, Fox News Channel has said who from Hollywood it is bringing to the event — and it’s a big list. While Greta Van Susteren is passing on this year’s dinner, Fox News stars Bill O’Reilly, Chris Wallace, Geraldo Rivera and Bret Baier will be in attendance, as will the likes of Oscar-winner screenwriter Dustin Lance Black and a contingent from sister studio Fox’s latest X-Men movie: director Bryan Singer and producer-writer Simon Kinberg. See who will be sitting at FNC’s 14 tables below. Also check back for more last-minute additions as we head into the final hours before Saturday’s dinner.
UPDATE, THURSDAY PM: TV comedy king Chuck Lorre will be making his first White House Correspondents’ Dinner appearance this year while waiting for series-pickup news for his hot CBS pilot Mom. Lorre, who is behind the CBS series The Big Bang Theory, Two And A Half Men and Mike & Molly, will be sitting with former Secretary of State Madeline Albright.
Related: Conan O’Brien Tweets Pic From DC
PREVIOUSLY: Hollywood is again the guest everyone seems to want at their table for this year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Returning headliner Conan O’Brien is set to take up the court-jester role that Jimmy Kimmel played last year and news organizations have begun to reveal guest lists for the April 27 event. There’s a lot of Tinseltown glitter already set alongside generals and top-tier cabinet secretaries — as well as power players like Harvey Weinstein. We know President Obama and the first lady will be there; here’s who else we know is going from Hollywood so far: