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."

By Lisa de Moraes  |  July 30, 2009; 11:15 AM ET Summer TV Press Tour 2009
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

"It will be nice for the Midwest because their crops will be greener."

LMAO Awesome.

Posted by: Lizka | July 30, 2009 12:08 PM

Pookie wrote: "In case you've been living under a flat rock, ... "


Posted by: jpstang | July 30, 2009 1:16 PM

Leno needs to get the Tonight Show back as Conan is not funny and is killing that show. Rivers is such a disgusting and non funny idiot and just needs to be quiet. If she is on the tv I switch to another station. I cannot stand her or Conan.

Posted by: ladyredskins | July 30, 2009 1:27 PM

"In case you've been living under a flat rock, Rivers had been the permanent "Tonight Show" guest host for years in the '80s" ...


Posted by: ManhattanMatt | July 31, 2009 11:36 AM

I think it's high time the networks and the local stations got real about viewers' television watching habits. This old, OLD notion of lead-ins was rendered obsolete by the remote control, and yet broadcasters cling to it like it's the Holy Grail. HELLO! People channel-surf DURING the shows! What makes you think that when their show ends at 10PM or 11PM, just because the set happens to be tuned to NBC when Leno ends, the viewer is going to watch the local NBC affiliate's news?

The lead-in notion MAY have made sense back in the day when you had to not only get up and turn a knob, but also had to reposition either the rabbit ears or the outside aerial -- which, if the competing television station was in the other direction, could take as long as three minutes, forcing you to choose between a) missing the "top" stories on your "favorite" station, or b) just sitting tight and leaving the set perfectly tuned to the station it's already on.

In a world of cable and satellite television and remote controls, however, the notion of lead-ins is as outdated as the manual wringer washer. People will watch what they want to watch at 10PM or 11PM, because all they have to do is punch a button. "Lead-ins" are just a convenient excuse for local affiliates blaming their sucky news product on the network.

Also, this might be a good time to re-examine the whole late night show schedule, as well -- and how many people are really watching it. With more double-income families and longer commutes necessitating ever-earlier wake-up times, who can even afford the lost sleep anymore?

Posted by: ManhattanMatt | July 31, 2009 12:12 PM

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