Leno at 10:30?
NBC could wind up bumping Jay Leno's new 10 p.m. talk show to 10:30 p.m., and moving its local stations' 11 p.m. newscasts to 10, former NBC programming chief Garth Ancier forecast.
Leno's talker will do okay, ratings-wise, under the current plan to air it at 10, said Ancier, who now heads BBC America.
That's because Leno's more accessible to middle America than is Conan O'Brien, Ancier told TV critics attending Summer TV Press Tour 2009 - that annual days-long bash when networks take turns trotting out their new TV product.
NBC recently replaced Leno with O'Brien as host of its iconic late night program "Tonight Show" and offered Leno the 10 o'clock slot, Monday through Friday, to keep him from jumping to another network.
But NBC stations' 11 p.m. local newscasts could suffer, because so many Leno fans bail after his opening monologue.
The local TV station business is already in a world of hurt these days, and NBC Universal owns a bunch of the network's stations. So Ancier, who also ran programming at the Fox network in its infancy and launched the WB network, suggested NBC Universal may decide they'd be better off with Leno's show following local news, not preceding it.
Of course, that would mean O'Brien gets to host "Tonight Show," like NBC promised, except he'd immediately follow a Jay Leno-hosted late night talk show - leaving O'Brien right back where he started.
Meanwhile, Joan Rivers hopes Leno bombs at 10.
Rivers showed up at the tour to pitch her new TV Land show, "How'd You Get So Rich?"
But naturally some critic asked her what she thought of the whole Leno/O'Brien switcheroo.
In case you've been living under a flat rock, Rivers had been the permanent "Tonight Show" guest host for years in the '80s, but left to go to Fox when she learned she was not on the short list to replace Johnny Carson as permanent "Tonight" host. Leno got that gig.
"I think it's brilliant that Leno is at 10 p.m., because America can get bored more easily and go to sleep earlier," Rivers snarked.
"When was the last time you heard, 'Did you hear what Leno said last night?' It will be nice for the Midwest because their crops will be greener."
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