Digital News Report – NBC had hoped to hold on to Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien, but that may not happen. There are reports that Fox is trying to pick up O’Brien for a late night comedy hour, and Conan has released a statement saying he wants the 11:35 time slot that Leno is now being offered.
Fox is offering O’Brien the 11:00 slot after their affiliates run news programs. Most networks run news at eleven, but Fox is following the lead of the independent stations running their news an hour early.
O’Brien’s contract for the “Tonight Show” did not specify the 11:35 time slot. That is unfortunate for the comedian because this limits his options. This means NBC is not violating the contract and is required to pay a penalty for offering to him a new schedule. But lawyers may argue that since the Tonight Show has run in that time slot for 50 years, it was implied. Besides, 12:05 a.m. is morning and not “night”.
In a statement, O’Brien said he would leave the Tonight Show if it follows Jay Leno at 12:05 a.m. He says it would destroy the show.
“I cannot express in words how much I enjoy hosting this program and what an enormous personal disappointment it is for me to consider losing it,” O’Brien said.
“My staff and I have worked unbelievably hard and we are very proud of our contribution to the legacy of The Tonight Show. But I cannot participate in what I honestly believe is its destruction.”
It was a huge mistake to move Jay Leno to 10 p.m. in the first place. This whole fiasco has and will cost NBC one way or another.
By: Jael Kirk