Everybody’s got ideas as to what they’d like to see The Tonight Show‘s outgoing-and-not-by-choice host Jay Leno do on his last show — more accurately, his second “last” show — in February. That includes his guest last night, CBS’ Late Late Show host Craig Ferguson:
Jimmy Fallon says his Tonight Show will be “the same show” as he’s doing now as Late Night. “I’m not going to change anything,” Fallon said while visiting the NBC station in the Orlando market. “It’s more eyeballs watching but it’s the same show.” On the other hand, Fallon also told the TV critic for the Orlando Sentinel that what triggered the Tonight show hand-off to him (scheduled for February to coincide with the 2014 Winter Olympics) was a call he got from Jay Leno saying, “I think I’m ready.” NBC, however, tells it diferently. NBC told Wall Street Journal in September 2012 there was no date for Leno’s exit, then, after vigorously denying March press reports NBC planned to replace Leno with Fallon, and after announcing in May that Leno would leave Tonight the week leading up to to the Winter Olympics and Fallon would take over shortly thereafter, this past July NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt acknowledged discussions about moving Jay out had begun as soon as Greenblatt joined NBC in January 2011. That puts it about 10 months after Jay returned to the Tonight hosting gig, after Conan O’Brien flamed out in the late-night ratings (and Leno in his primetime strip), and local NBC stations complained.
Fallon is quoted in the Sentinel as saying, “As soon as I got Late Night, I called Jay and said, ‘I want to let you know I want to start on the right foot. I respect you.’ I’ve been a guest on the show numerous times. I said, ‘I’m not gunning for your job. I’m not trying to plot anything. Whenever you’re ready to step down, let me know. But I’m happy at 12:30.’ ” But wait, when Fallon got Late Night, Leno didn’t have a job for Fallon to gun for at NBC. Fallon was announced as the guy who would replace O’Brien on Late Night in May 2008, and he officially debuted in March 2009. NBC had announced back in 2004 that Leno would be stepping down from Tonight in 2009; he left on May 29 of that year.
“Jay Leno is Going Out On Top, And We Think That’s The Right Thing To Do” And Other Great Lines from HRTS Lunch
Once upon a time, the entire TV industry took the afternoon off to attend the Hollywood Radio and TV Society season-kickoff lunch and watch their bosses admit which competitor’s show they most wished they had on their schedule and answer other similarly adorable questions. It was a simpler time. These days, the mood onstage is much darker. One exec makes some all-flesh-is-as-grass observation about the state of the industry; another agrees there is a resemblance. And then, there’s the traffic. In case you missed it, here are the quotes to note from today’s lunch:
*Good time to be a comedy producer: “There are 168 dramas in production. Anybody who knows how to run a [drama] show is employed. There isn’t anybody left in development. … It’s fully cooked.” — FX Networks CEO John Landgraf
*Netflix: “I didn’t know there was an option for not reporting ratings.” — HBO programming president Michael Lombardo
*Why NBC is dumping Jay Leno: “Jay is going out on top, and we think that’s the right thing to do.” — NBC Broadcasting Chairman Ted Harbert
*Anti-hero dramas are so over: “A show can’t just rest on an anti-hero premise anymore. … A pitch that’s ‘this guy is the most fucked-up guy’ is not good enough.” — Lombardo
*Kevin Spacey should shove a sock in it: “[House Of Cards] had a star and a director and scripts for the first two episodes, and they had a show that they were basing it on. … I understand why artists don’t want to audition with a plot…[but, unless you're "House of Cards," minus a pilot] good shows could be prevented from being great shows — Lombardo
Jay Leno clocked his biggest numbers with President Obama’s Tonight Show visit last night since his last visit to the show nine months ago. Leno and Obama trounced their broadcast competitors according to early metered-market household stats. …
Jay Leno is readying to exit stage left from NBC’s Tonight Show next February. So Adam Sandler was a guest Thursday and offered a little unsolicited advice about Leno’s post-Tonight plans. Of course, Sandler doesn’t mention that the problem is that Fox would have to get clearance for any late-night show from the affiliates who get to keep all the ad revenue from their late local news. Fox then might have to compensate them for any lost revenue. In other words, it’s complicated. Read the transcript after the jump:
Two decades after the Jay Leno-David Letterman battle for The Tonight Show, the Tonight Show curse has struck again with yet another messy host transition. In 1992, NBC had two hot young comedians eager to replace longtime Tonight host Johnny Carson, Leno and Letterman. The network chose Leno and created a formidable late-night rival in Letterman, who defected to CBS to launch The Late Show. Leno and Letterman had been going at each other ever since, looking to outrate and outlast each other. Letterman had the upper hand in the ratings early on before Leno took the lead, holding onto it for the most of the past 17 years. The two even have been timing their contracts to end at the same time. They did it again this time, with Leno’s deal up in September 2014 and Letterman’s contract also going through late 2014.
NBC‘s announcement today that Leno will retire in spring (likely February) of 2014, assures that Letterman will be the last man standing in the duo’s 20-year rivalry. Having outlasted his archrival, 65-year-old Letterman too may decide to retire at the end of his deal instead of going toe-to-toe with younger new competitors, Jimmy Fallon (38) on NBC and Jimmy Kimmel (45) on ABC. The key thing is that it will likely be his decision to make. Letterman has largely been given carte blanche to do the show for as long as he wants to. (Though in his recent interview with Oprah, Letterman claimed he has an agreement with CBS topper Les Moonves that Moonves has to tell him when it is time to go.)
UPDATE, 6:33 PM: Jay Leno admitted tonight to the Tonight Show studio audience that he had a “really awkward day.” During today’s taping, the now officially departing late night host addressed NBC’s announcement that Late Night host Jimmy Fallon would be taking over the Tonight Show next year. …
David Letterman didn’t waste any time to take his digs at NBC and the official announcement that Jay Leno is leaving The Tonight Show next year to be replaced by Jimmy Fallon. “I got a call from my mom today, she says, ‘Well, David, I see you didn’t get the Tonight Show again,’ ” the CBS Late Show host said in his monologue to air tonight (see the preview below). “NBC, God bless ‘em, announced the official date for Jay Leno’s departure — no mention of his official date of return, however,” he added, alluding to the last time his longtime late-night rival was dumped from the Tonight Show for Conan O’Brien — only to return eight months later. Added Letterman: “It seems like we just went through this. Didn’t we just go through this? Jay Leno now is being replaced, and this is the second time this has happened. I mean, it’s crazy. He’s being replaced by a younger late-night talk show host — what could possibly go wrong? Honestly. They had pretty good luck with this in the past”.
As well as doing a Leno-themed Top 10 tonight, Letterman — who was passed over for the Tonight Show job in favor of Leno in 1992 and soon after departed for CBS – had more to say. From his desk tonight: