By Ryan Parsons | Image property of respective holders, Variety
Jay Leno practically pulled what I like to call a 'Brett Favre' with NBC. After acknowledging his upcoming retirement -- which I'm sure seemed like a long way out when he originally agreed to it -- 2009 is almost upon us and that means that Jay Leno will have to step down as King of Late Night in order to make room for Conan O'Brien. The only catch was that Leno decided that he wasn't all that ready to leave and hinted that he may even go to another network if NBC pushes him out.
Fortunately, a compromise has been made and what it means is more Leno.
Jay Leno Goes Earlier
If you're one of those who cannot stay up late enough to watch Leno then I have some great news. NBC has announced that Leno's show will be pushed forward 90 minutes to fill the 10PM timeslot. In short, NBC's late-night programming will now begin at 10PM and carry on with Conan O'Brien in the regular 11:35 slot.
While I love good late night television, the move by NBC does have some consequences. For one, it looks like they will be canceling My Own Worst Enemy, a show I have come to LOVE.
Please NBC - Don't cancel My Own Worst Enemy! But I digress...
The writers might be partially to blame -- think WGA strike -- as NBC is showing just how willing they are to shy away from scripted fare in favor of reality television.
So will Leno's show change to satisfy the 10PM viewers? Not likely, as the host has been given one simple order in the agreement: Keep doing what you're doing. While the timeslot will feel different, Leno will have the satisfaction of knowing that he is making between $40 to $50 million each year.
Since O'Brien is having a new stage built on the Universal lot, Leno won't even have to vacate his Burbank studio.
Leno's final show at the 11:35 slot will air on May 29th, with Conan O'Brien taking over on June 1st.
Since I love both Leno and Conan, NBC's decision comes off as a win-win. Well, the loss of My Own Worst Enemy stings (deep), so maybe win-lose-win.