Press Tour: FOX chief expresses skepticism at NBC’s Jay Leno plan

01.13.09 9 years ago

Frank Micelotta/FOX

Kevin Reilly’s tenure as Entertainment President at NBC ended in spring of 2007, but he has yet to have a Television Critics Association press tour panel in his not-so-new gig at FOX where he wasn’t asked an NBC-based question.

“NBC for me is like the crazy ex-wife I can’t get away from,” Reilly cracked at Tuesday (Jan. 13).

The Fox Entertainment President (or “prexy” as the industry trades would call him) was, of course, being asked about NBC’s decision to turn over the 10 p.m. hour to Jay Leno starting next fall, a move Richard Belzer has already referred to as “the last gasp of a dying network.”

Reilly’s reaction was a bit more measured.

“I give them a lot of credit for signing up Jay,” Reilly said. “I was surprised to see that. I think it’s a smart strategic move for them in a very very troubled place. That’s the good part of it. Stepping back, just looking at the facts, the network historically has struggled establishing scripted shows at 8 o’clock. You have to go back to Fresh Prince in 1990 to find a self-starting scripted hit. You almost have to go back to Cosby before that. It’s been a historical challenge for NBC even at their height. If 8 o’clock is a place they’re going to struggle to establish scripted shows, they don’t program Friday/Saturday/Sunday for half the year with scripted shows. On a historical level, if you look at the network that was the premiere brand for scripted television, that’s a bit of a sad statement. Whether they make a go as a business level, we’ll see.”

Stay tuned, in the days to come, when we find out what executives at CBS, ABC and, well, NBC have to say about NBC’s Leno strategy.

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