7/25/2008

The Jay Leno Saga

We don’t get it.

It was announced that Jay Leno would leave NBC’s The Tonight Show when his contract expired in 2009. Conan O’Brien would replace him and leave Late Night in the hands of former SNLer Jimmy Fallon. Leno would retire from TV and continue to do standup. Right?

But now, it turns out Leno might not want to leave but they already gave the gig to Conan—do you have enough savings put aside, Fallon?—while ABC, Fox, Sony Television, and who knows who else, are supposedly willing to offer Leno a boatload of cash—$40 million/yr—and a sea of perks. To Jay Leno? Serioulsy?

David Letterman and O’Brien are much more our kinda bag when it comes to talk shows, and despite what the ratings say, Letterman is the king. Period. (It’s quite understandable that Leno would beat Letterman in the ratings: the former runs a much more mainstream, old-fashioned operation, whereas the latter—who we feel is a direct influence on the likes of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report—is still considered at this point “a grinning inquisitor who might slice you like lunch meat with his light sword of irony.” No contest. )

In any event, Letterman long gave up the Tonight Show ghost—the moment he jumped ship and went to CBS in 1993 pretty much sealed it—and has given O’Brien his blessing to take the gig once Leno’s gone. We don’t know if O’Brien’s brand of humor will translate to the 11:30 PM crowd, or if, God forbid, he’ll be forced to dull the edges of his humor. Now, that would be a loss.

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