All right, so since the Leno-Conan rumor/bomb yesterday, we’ve got some things that seem certain and some likely possibilities. Here’s what’s certain: Jay Leno is moving back to the 11:30 slot. What NBC wants to do is have “The Jay Leno Show” on for half an hour, then have Conan’s “Tonight Show” at midnight and Jimmy Fallon’s “Late Night” at 1:00 a.m. Whether or not that happens apparently depends on if O’Brien decides to accept this fate.
O’Brien’s handlers are likely mulling all of their options — and pitching their client to both Fox, which currently doesn’t have a late night franchise on the weeknights, and ABC, which would have to move “Nightline” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live” out of the way.
But neither network appears immediately likely to make a play for O’Brien, insiders said. What’s more, Broadcasting and Cable reported that NBC has the option to bench O’Brien for the remainder of his contract but keep paying him. [Variety]
If Conan bolts, of course, you-know-who gets “The Tonight Show” back. Frankly, I’ve already reached the acceptance phase. NBC’s decision to put Leno at 10:00 was so epically disastrous that they HAD to get rid of Jay at that time slot, and while I would have preferred the network loosen the brakes on Leno’s fleet of cars, I can see how moving him to 11:30 makes more business sense.
As for Conan, I’ll continue to be a fan no matter what happens. Perhaps a move to midnight will open the door for more of the offbeat antics that he had to abandon when he moved to L.A., although leaving NBC would probably be more cathartic — for both O’Brien and his fans.
The bottom line is this: when TV-related stories start getting this complex and heated and I no longer have the ability to turn the conversation to a quick joke, that’s the moment I say, “It’s just TV.” I’d rather spend my worries on actual problems in the world. Things like war and the environment and what happens if TLC runs out of midgets.