Why does Jay Leno feel compelled to tell jokes at 11:30 p.m., a mighty put-down to his "Tonight Show" successor, Conan O'Brien?
Can't the 60-year-old Leno just go away? It’s over, Jay. You've had a nice run. You can do stand-up in Las Vegas or pretty much wherever you want for as long as you want. The tube is in desperate need for fresh blood.
In throwing the younger O’Brien under the bus, the suits at NBC Universal show they are either clueless or simply don't care about building a connection with younger audiences that consider Leno pretty lame.
Leno may be viewed as a "boy toy" by the octogenarian crowd, but that's a group that doesn't have the hearts of advertisers racing.
And what about NBCU’s farm team? King Jay's demand for the traditional "Tonight" time slot means Carson Daly is the odd man out in the line-up. Daly's "very late night show" starts at 1:35 a.m., well past the bedtime of yours truly. [Truth be told: I am a Dave Letterman fan.]
The network says it can't push Daly back to 2 a.m. because it doesn't control the time slot. Jeff Gaspin, chairman of NBCU Television Entertainment, vows that the Peacock Network is sticking with Daly. NBC is committed to Daly "regardless of what happens," said Gaspin. The world will soon find out.
Daly could be sitting pretty if O'Brien follows Sarah Palin to Fox TV. Rupert's empire, which has just inked Alaska's former leader as a contributor and occasional TV show host, would love to have O'Brien as a late night host. That would inject a certain amount of hipness to Fox.
There is a simple solution to the Leno mess. NBCU could iron out a deal with affiliates, putting Leno in the 11 p.m. time slot, which is currently the segment for "local news." Local news departments have been stripped to the bone and are a shadow of what they were 10 years ago. Leno would be a serious upgrade and generate more ad dollars for local stations.
The bigger question about the whole Leno/O’Brien/NBCU mess: who cares except the swells in the L.A. and New York entertainment/media world?
Many wish President Obama's dangerous escalation in Afghanistan -- which may soon result in a monthly casualty toll for U.S. forces of 300 to 500 a month, according to retired general & West Point professor Barry McCaffrey -- would get the same amount of ink as the shuffling of the NBCU talk show line-up.