I was actually surprised by NBC's decision to essentially cancel The Jay Leno Show. After all, it didn't have to bring in many viewers to make a profit, and the show appeared to be achieving that less than stellar goal. What I hadn't counted on was the dissatisfaction of the affiliates with the inability of The Jay Leno Show to bring in viewers to the 10 o'clock local news. Even The Tonight Show has experienced a decline in viewers that might be partially attributable to the poor lead in. In other words, Law & Order brought more viewers to the local news than Jay Leno does.
So what does NBC do? They screw it up, just as they have the last two times The Tonight Show changed hosts. Fearful that Leno will jump ship to another competitor, the powers-that-be decided that Leno will take the post local news slot (10:30 central time) and The Tonight Show, hosted by Conan O'Brien, will start at 11. Jimmy Fallon's show will start at midnight.
Guess what? O'Brien hates the idea. He has no intention of taking a back seat to Leno. NBC clearly cannot keep both. And the late night shows have been abuzz with jokes and snippy comments about the entire situation.
But of more interest to me, and more fitting to the theme of this blog, is that extra hour each week day that will soon be left free. My first thought, when I heard, was to wonder if NBC was sorry it had cancelled Southland before its second season, which NBC had already ordered. Fortunately for the show and its fans, TNT decided to pick it up. I've since heard that the Law & Orders (original, SVU, and Criminal Intent) will be airing at the 9:00 hour originally taken by Jay Leno. as will a reality show or two and an episode of Dateline. NBC has time, however, as nothing will really change until after the Olympics in February. Perhaps something will fall into their laps.