Sunday, July 21, 2024

WAR! All Eyes on Jay Leno’s Show As He Goes After NBC Again


UPDATE Real war broke out this afternoon between NBC and Jay Leno–and for the third time. Yes, it’s World War III. On the “Tonight” show Leno went after NBC for the third night in a row, calling them “extinct” and comparing them to Jurassic Park. “There’s hope for them yet,” he quipped. This was after NBC used the Hollywood media to attack Leno late in the afternoon on two fronts. Crazy stuff since NBC and Leno famously tangled at the very beginning of his run when the network wanted David Letterman to take over the Tonight show. That resulted in a book and a movie for HBO by Bill Carter of the New York Times.

Then, just a couple of years ago, there was the War Over Conan O’Brien which ended very badly and caused O’Brien to leave the network. Now NBC, instead of dealing quietly with Leno over his 2014 exit and Jimmy Fallon’s succession. The result is that NBC will attack Leno again today and he will go after them again tonight. Is it driving ratings up? Who cares? It’s once again damaging their brand.  For some reason NBC– as with Ann Curry most recently, and many times in the past– can’t handle their Human Resources Department very well. “30 Rock” parodies were not so off the mark.

It’s all quite different than what went at ABC when “Nightline” was pushed out of the way for Jimmy Kimmel. That was pretty clean in the end. Why NBC can’t do anything diplomatically could be the subject of a new Bill Carter book.

But it’s no different than that war in January 2010. In his monologues then, Leno said NBC stood for “Never Believe Your Contract.”

Stay tuned…

Earlier: All eyes will be on Jay Leno’s “Tonight” show tonight. The reason? With one hour to go before Wednesday night’s taping, NBC sent Leno a clear message and used the media to do it. The Drudge Report is blaring “Fallon In, Leno Out” as GQ magazine released a special issue with heir apparent Jimmy Fallon on the cover. The Hollywood Reporter seized on a quote from Fallon producer Lorne Michaels that “Jimmy Fallon” is the closest thing he’s seen to a Johnny Carson. Wow. (I think Fallon is more like Jack Paar or Steve Allen frankly.) The New York Times’ expert on this subject, Bill Carter, followed with a story about a Fallon Tonight show moving to New York. Leno, with a quick trigger temper, will be exploding at these statements. With hints that he may be forced out by February 2014, Leno is sure to blow a gasket. When The “Tonight” show begins taping at 4pm Pacific, 7 Eastern, look for Tweets etc about his monologue. Yikes. Fallon, meantime, who’s a nice guy, is said to be reaching out to Leno to calm him down. Good luck. Conan O’Brien was a nice guy too. Leno is Patton when it comes to the Tonight Show.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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