Sunday, March 03, 2013

Late Night Wars: Episode III

Remember that time just over three years ago when NBC uncorked a fiasco over who got to host, or continue to host, The Tonight Show? Well, that contretemps, which saw Conan O'Brien briefly ascend to the Tonight throne before ceding it once more to once-and-present host Jay Leno, worked out so well for them (after the similar Tonight war between Leno and David Letterman in the early '90s), that it looks like NBC is hoping to make it a trilogy (which I'm sure will make New York Times reporter Bill Carter, who managed to squeeze two quite-excellent tomes out of the previous late night wars, very happy indeed).

Per this report at The Hollywood Reporter (after similar such word a few months ago), the net is ready to make the next season Leno's last, with plans to make current Late Night host Jimmy Fallon their man at 11:35 (all the better to square off with ABC's younger-skewing Jimmy Kimmel Live, now airing opposite both Leno and
Letterman). Now, given the Peacock's piss-poor ratings record of late, with Spanish-speaking Univision even laying the smackdown on the beleagured bird in recent weeks, it's entirely understandable that they want to chase that valuable 18-49 demo wherever they can, and who knows, maybe Fallon's brand of slow jams and guitar riffs will indeed play better against Kimmel at an earlier hour.

However, even with the ratings catnip that is Jimmy Fallon (now there's a phrase I never thought I'd type here), NBC has already tried to unseat Leno twice and failed both times, and given that he continues, even now, to be the late night leader even with added competition, you'd think they'd just let the guy announce on his own terms when he stops. He's at least earned that right after after twenty-plus years (minus that nine-month "Conan" hiccup). Naturally there will be more to report as this develops, including, I'm sure, strident denials from NBC that no, they'd never push Jay out. For the time being though, Jimmy Fallon would be well advised to check his closets and have someone else start his car.

(Source: The Hollywood Reporter)

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