Let’s get this out of the way, I’m a Conan O’Brien and David Letterman fan. For all intents and purposes, the media tells me I should despise Jay Leno. I don’t. He’s not my favorite comedian. I find what he did to David Letterman distasteful, but it’s been over 20 years and the two men now talk to each other again. I also think he should have left NBC after they handed The Tonight Show to Conan. However, things get nasty when two people are battling over their dream job. For years ago Jay came out looking bad, yet so did Conan. The real loser was NBC.
Instead of hating Jay, I understand that he’s vanilla. Something bland that the remains of an aging mainstream America falls asleep watching. I am not his target audience. In spite of it all, I watched the last Tonight Show with Jay Leno expecting something more than a typical show. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. NBC’s making a big deal about the changing of the guard at The Tonight Show, but Jay went out with a whimper. It was an average show that focuses more on the past than normal, which is saying something for a show hosted by a guy still making Monica Lewinsky jokes in 2001.
For some reason, NBC insists Jimmy Fallon is the new Johnny Carson. In order to make those beliefs clearer, the Peacock Network will change the “with” in The Tonight Show With Jay Leno to “starring” for Jimmy Fallon’s tenure, which conjures up images of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Obviously, Jay Leno’s name will no longer be in the show’s title.
It may seem like an argument over semantics, but NBC changing “with” to “starring” is a big deal because it is symbolic. Bringing “starring” back into The Tonight Show title makes it seem like NBC wants to get away from Jay Leno’s tenure and Conan O’Brien’s already forgotten time as host. However, the network cannot relive the past. In fact, there are several reasons why a show starring Jimmy Fallon is a bad idea.
Starting in January, ABC will push Nightline back an hour, so that Jimmy Kimmel Live can be a direct competitor to the Tonight Show with Jay Leno and The Late Show with David Letterman. This does not make sense. ABC already wins the 11:35pm late night ratings race against Leno and Letterman with Nightline, which averages 3.8 million viewers. However, ABC loses the ratings race a half hour later because Kimmel averages 1.8 million viewers to Leno’s 3.71 million viewers and Letterman’s 3.22 million viewers. Kimmel also receives the fewest number of viewers among the 3 hosts in the coveted 19-49 demographic.