There is a long history of late-night talk show hosts giving their own bosses a hard time. I know that Letterman, during NBC’s reign at the top during the 90s, attacked CBS’s programming mercilessly, and even now, continues to joke about the average age of a CBS viewers (109!). It’s not unusual, then, for Jay Leno to make jokes at the expense of NBC, but I wonder — given how far NBC has fallen, and given all the rumors circulating around about Jay Leno’s approaching forced retirement — if it’s a wise thing for Leno to take potshots? One person he’s certainly pissed off is Robert Greenblatt, the Chairman of NBC Entertainment, who is responsible for the network’s historic plummet over the last few months.
From the NYTimes Media Coder:
Three executives close to the situation reported this week that Mr. Greenblatt had taken offense to monologue jokes Mr. Leno made last month in the wake of news stories about NBC’s ratings struggles and how the network had fallen into fifth place in the sweeps month of February — behind the Spanish-language network Univision.
Specifically, on the night of Feb. 28, Mr. Leno referenced the news about NBC’s falling into fifth place by telling a series of jokes:
“For the first time in history NBC is going to finish fifth in the ratings period,” Mr. Leno said. “We are behind the Spanish-language network Univision — or as we call it here in Los Angeles: Cinco de Ratings.” He added a series of rapid-fire jokes about how bad off NBC is including: “It’s so bad, ‘The Biggest Loser’ isn’t just a TV show anymore; it’s our new motto.” And: “It’s so bad, NBC called Manti Te’o and asked him to bring in some imaginary viewers.”
Apparently those jokes prompted Greenblatt to fire off a “pointed” email at Leno, and the two exchanged several testy emails, with Leno expressing surprise that Greenblatt would take offense. One wonders, however, if Greenblatt wasn’t as upset with the substance of the joke as he was the quality. I mean: Those are terrible jokes. “Cinco de Ratings”?
NBC nevertheless denies reports that they are looking to replace Leno with Jimmy Fallon in an attempt to court the younger viewers that Jimmy Kimmel is stealing away. Leno remains the top-rated host on NBC, however, and currently, The Tonight Show is one of only three profitable programs on the network, along with Brian Williams’ newscast and Saturday Night Live, whose Justin Timberlake hosted show was the highest rated program on NBC in 2013 (excluding awards shows).
Funny sidenote: Bob Greenblatt actually uses Parks and Recreation to send coded messages to Jay Leno.
(Source: Media Decoder)