As we told you back in April, NBC offered Jay Leno a 10 P.M. time slot at the network, but Jay declined as it was to be a series of specials. Recently, NBC pitched the idea to Leno of the 10 P.M. time slot again, but as a daily show. Leno agreed! The New York Times broke the story on this one.
Jay Leno is set to make the announcement official tomorrow. This is going to be quite interesting. I wonder if it will still be called the Tonight Show With Jay Leno though. in 2004, Leno was asked to step down for Conan O'Brien in 2009. Conan was a hot item then and was wanting the coveted 11:35 P.M. time slot and almost bounced to ABC. They kept him by promising him the show in 5 years time. Jay, ever the nice guy of Hollywood agreed, although others like myself thought Leno was retiring too young.
Flash forward 4 years and Conan is getting beat on a nightly basis by Craig Fergerson. Even Jimmy Kimmel's ratings are getting higher against Conan. NBC falls to the 3rd most watched network. The one constant in all of this? Jay Leno is still number 1.
What does NBC do? If they don't give Conan the Tonight Show, they have to give him $40 million dollars. They already talked Conan from moving to New York to California and he bought a home in Brentwood. (Was planning on taking a helicopter each day to work?) All of a sudden, NBC is scared. ABC is willing to cancel Nightline and give Leno the 11:30 slot and move Jimmy Kimmel behind him and be the replacement whenever Leno steps down. Fox steps up and offers him the 11 P.M. time slot. All of the odds are in Leno's favor and he even announced he is done with NBC when he leaves.
NBC saved their butts with the new 10 P.M. time slot daily offer. Leno will remain in Burbank and Conan will be going to an all new studio at Universal City. So NBC keeps Jay, Conan gets his time slot and ABC and Fox are screwed.
Jay Leno is the friendliest guy in Hollywood bar none. He has always been kind in conversations I have had with him and his staff is the most patient, courteous, and hard working that I know and have always taken care of me when needing to be at the show.
This offer surprised me and I am very happy for Jay. I just hope NBC handles it right and I do also wonder how long of a deal Leno has in place. There are some things you can get away with after midnight that you just can't get away with at 10 P.M.-Dr.FB
Update: We just learned the deal is worth $40-50 Million a year. That is some serious green!