The reports that indicated that NBC would once again be reshuffling its late night television schedule with the cancellation of the disappointing Jay Leno Show. But it seems that this is not yet the end of the road for Leno at NBC. NBC hopes to push back their entire late night slate, placing Leno back at the 11:35 slot he had called home for 17 years, to be followed by The Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien at 12:05am, and Late Night With Jimmy Fallon at 1:05am. Of course, this wouldn't be the first time NBC hedged on their decision to replace Leno with O'Brien as the anchor of its late night programming. After passing the torch to Conan following Leno's last episode of The Tonight Show on May 29, 2009, it was announced that Leno would return to NBC to host The Jay Leno Show weeknights at 10 pm. Over the past year, management at NBC has seemed to be in a flux over the decision-making regarding its late night schedule. But confusion and controversy in this arena was nothing new for either Leno or NBC.
Howard Stern, Patton Oswalt, David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel are just a few of the people who have weighed in against Jay Leno within just the last week. They all agree that Leno should just retire. Does this man embarrass at all? Why does he need more money? Why is NBC still grasping to the sinking boat called U.S.S. Leno? And now he looks like he’ll be forcing Conan O’Brien off the air completely. Leno reminds me of Brett Favre, and Al Davis for a different set of reasons. If Leno, Davis and Favre all retired this weekend, it would be a memorable day and a reason to celebrate. (But there is a matter of playoff game that has to happen first.)
This online article published in the Huffington Post makes a lot of sense. First, they set up the current situation with some historical background:
“Indeed, it was 17 years ago, with Johnny Carson's tenure on The Tonight Show winding down, that NBC stunned the nation by announcing that it would be Leno, and not late night rival David Letterman, who would succeed Carson as the host of The Tonight Show. Many, including Carson himself, considered Letterman -- whose show Late Night With David Letterman immediately followed Carson's on NBC -- to be his natural and rightful successor. But when the smoke and controversy settled, much of which is documented in Bill Carter's book, The Late Shift, it was Leno hosting The Tonight Show, while Letterman landed at CBS directly competing with the show he had assumed he would inevitably be hosting. Thus, changeovers of the late night scene at NBC have been anything but smooth over the years, but that is nothing surprising. Rough transitions are to be expected, particularly when a position of this caliber is at stake and particularly when it involves an old legend being replaced by a fresher, younger face. Just ask the Green Bay Packers.
For sixteen seasons, Brett Favre's name, rugged demeanor, aggressive play, and #4 jersey were synonymous with the Green Bay Packers organization. That's the type of thing a Super Bowl title, 3 MVP awards, and a multitude of career passing records will do for you. Despite still having Favre on board, the Packers decided to look ahead to the future, and in 2005 selected University of California QB Aaron Rodgers with their 1st round pick. After a resurgent 2007 season that ended with an overtime loss in the NFC Championship Game, Favre called it quits. In an emotional retirement press conference, Favre indicated that he felt that he could still play but that it was time to move on. The Packers, too, felt it was time to move on to Rodgers, their quarterback of the future. We all know what happened from there, although the exact details will vary depending on who you ask. Favre desired to return to Green Bay, but the Packers were committed to Rodgers. Still possessing a strong desire to play, Favre forced the Packers' hand and landed in New York playing for the Jets. One promising, but ultimately unfulfilling season later, we were back right where we started - another Favre retirement press conference, more rumors of a now-trite comeback, and before you knew it, Brett Favre was under center for the Minnesota Vikings, the Packers' most hated rival.”
There is a lot to compare about these two scenarios and the decisions that the powers that be in each organization faced. In both situations, an aging veteran who thought he still had some life left in him was ushered out to make room for the future of the franchise. In both, the departed veteran desired to return to the spotlight and seemed destined to make things difficult for his former bosses if they didn't comply with his wishes. However, that's where the similarities end. Because while the Packers stuck to their guns and honored their commitment to Rodgers that the team was now his, NBC waffled on their promises to Conan, forcing him to share NBC's late night stage with his predecessor. And the Packers have been rewarded for their decisiveness. While Favre has shown that he can still be effective, he is no match for Rodgers at this point in both of their careers. After back-to-back seasons of 4,000+ yards and approximately 30 TD passes, Rodgers has already cemented himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. And he's only 26.
By contrast, NBC's wavering has made it look like an organization in disarray. Leno or Conan? Conan or Leno? Who's it gonna be? That has been the question all weekend and although NBC is hopeful that they can work out a compromise to keep both on board, even the most optimistic of minds can't honestly expect that to work out as a long-term solution. NBC clearly made a decision that Conan O'Brien was the future of the network in terms of late night television and they should have stood by that instinct. When the time came for Leno to give way to Conan that should have been that, end of story. But Leno still wanted to perform? And he might even consider taking his business to another network? Good for Leno. Conan's time has come and he's our guy. You can certainly make a case that that is how they should have handled the situation. After all, that's what the Packers did and it all worked out just fine for them.”
Move over, Jay. Do specials now and then and maybe do a radio show on Sirius. You’ve used your 15 minutes 500 times over and your time in the spotlight is done. Johnny Carson created the Tonight Show and all you did was poorly occupying the couch for way too many years.
It’s a Network TV Krivorkian, and much needed. Goodnight Jay……..please! I can’t take another monologue without seriously considering suicide.