The Wrap, along with CBS News and Fox Business, have picked up on a report from a site called FTLive.com that NBC is going to cancel the Jay Leno experiment. On Monday of this week, NBC decided to order up to 18 pilots for the upcoming season, prompting BNET to speculate that this huge order is an attempt to fill Leno’s timeslots, which certainly looks suspicious to me.
NBC, in an attempt to deny the rumor, has dropped this statement:
Jay Leno is one of the most compelling entertainers in the world today. As we have said all along, Jay’s show has performed exactly as we anticipated on the network. It has, however, presented some issues for our affiliates. Both Jay and the show are committed to working closely with them to find ways to improve the performance.
Err, yeah, so they’re kind of denying the rumor, but honestly, I wouldn’t consider that a very encouraging statement. Remember the Boston affiliate that tried to pass on Leno’s show back in April, until NBC beat them into submission by threatening to strip their affiliation? Yeah, I do. Back then, NBC could scare their affiliates quiet, but after less than a year of this ill-begotten venture, it seems like their persuasive powers have faded a bit. In all likelihood, the affiliates have seen their ad revenues drop because of the show’s sad ratings, and they’re calling for blood. NBC will have to listen this time, though I don’t know what they could do to “improve performance” other than dropping the show off the schedule.
I consider this to be a welcome bit of schadenfreude, and it seems like the Twitter–verse does as well. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Jay Leno; I’ve never really watched ANY late night shows (they’re just not my thing) but he does seem like a nice guy. Instead, my joy comes from watching NBC continue to self-destruct. In the last few years, they’ve pushed mostly derivative dreck down our throats, and the few bold and challenging shows they premiered (hey Kings and Southland) were underpromoted after their first episodes, unceremoniously yanked off the air a few weeks before premiering a second season, or consigned to a saturday night death slot. But that’s not the worst part. The worst part is that NBC thought their viewing audience would buy what they were trying to sell. Even from the very beginning, moving Leno to 10 PM came across as a transparently cynical, lame-ass, cheap, penny-pinching ploy. They appeared less interested in keeping him around than they were in saving a couple of bucks. It was a dumb idea, born from either cheapness or desperation, and now, as everyone seemed to predict, it’s about to blow up in their faces.