Jay Leno, a Class Act…in 2004.

Via elephant journal
on Jan 17, 2010
get elephant's newsletter

jay leno letterman conan promise

This show is like a Dynasty, you hold it and then you hand it off to the next person. Conan, it’s yours…

I like Jay Leno, but he should do the right thing and say he’ll let Conan take the Tonight Show dynasty and run with it. Oh, wait, he already did—five years ago.

From the ‘Nuff Said Department:

Bonus: Kimmel sticks it to Jay (repeatedly) on Jay’s own show:


About elephant journal

elephant journal is dedicated to "bringing together those working (and playing) to create enlightened society." We're about anything that helps us to live a good life that's also good for others, and our planet. >>> Founded as a print magazine in 2002, we went national in 2005 and then (because mainstream magazine distribution is wildly inefficient from an eco-responsible point of view) transitioned online in 2009. >>> elephant's been named to 30 top new media lists, and was voted #1 in the US on twitter's Shorty Awards for #green content...two years running. >>> Get involved: > Subscribe to our free Best of the Week e-newsletter. > Follow us on Twitter Fan us on Facebook. > Write: send article or query. > Advertise. > Pay for what you read, help indie journalism survive and thrive.


5 Responses to “Jay Leno, a Class Act…in 2004.”

  1. I have mixed feelings about this.

    I saw Jeff Zucker (President of NBC) interviewed on Charlie Rose last night, and he really has a serious business dilemma. It was clear to him that Conan was striking out and would continue to strike out on the Tonight Show.

    After all, Conan had lost nearly half the audience, with no signs of being able to get it back. Conan has all kinds of excuses for this, and I'm sure he firmly believes he can get the audience back, but that's not what Jeff's gut tells him.

    So does he keep Conan where he feels strongly he will fail, and in the process lose Jay Leno, the man he knows can get back the ratings? No, he tries to work out a reasonable compromise that Conan rejects.

    Things would certainly be easier right now if Jay would just say, No, I gave the Tonight Show to Conan and I'm not going to go back on my word. And from a fairness standpoint, he probably should have done that.

    But NBC would have had to dump Conan anyway for inability to attract a reasonable audience. Regardless of how popular he is with certain segments of the population, he's apparently not popular enough with right people, and that's his primary responsibility to NBC. Why else should these guys be paid outrageous sums of money?

    So now Conan's going to walk away with $30-40 Million, trashing NBC all the way out the door, the network that lifted him out of obscurity and made him what he is, with not the slightest sense of gratitude, after trashing the venerable Tonight Show and demolishing its long stellar ratings. Is that fair?

    I much prefer Leno to Conan, myself, and I always switch to Letterman rather than struggle to enjoy Conan's self-centered antics. So, apart from sharing your misgivings about Jay's fairness to Conan, I'm very happy to see him give Conan the boot. And I'm part of the half of the Tonight Show audience he lost.

    Bob Weisenberg

  2. It takes time to build an audience. Leno himself got his ass kicked nightly by Letterman until Leno had good fortune to break the apology story re Hugh Grant and the prostitute (remember that)? It does take time to build an audience, esp. with a generational baton pass. And Leno himself is no magician with the audience…he's fallen flat as a lead in to the news, which was actually the affilates' main complaint: their ratings sucked.

    You don't mess with the Tonight Show. You walk the talk of your decision and stay with the girl who brung you…in this case Conan, a proven talent with a passionate following.

  3. Hmmm. I have several problems with your logic (all of which are subject to fact checking–I don't have time to do the research right now.)

    1) While Leno was second to Letterman at first, I don't recall that he ever dropped half the Tonight Show audience in a few short months. Sure, you stick with your quarterback, but not if he's throwing 10 interceptions every game.

    2) Leno was a relatively new talk show commodity at the time, whereas Conan was already as well known as Leno and he has had a popular talk show for years. What scares NBC is that most people already know Conan well and have dropped him.

    3) Leno had already done a lot of guest hosting on the Tonight Show, so NBC had already been able to study audience reactions at that hour. I believe Conan was untested at the Tonight Show hour.

    4) Leno had a humble do-what-it-takes new-guy-on-the-block attitude to taking over the Tonight Show, and paid homage to the previous wildly successful host, Johnny Carson. Conan, in contrast, came in with a rock-star "you need me more that I need you" mentality. This doesn't make for creative solutions to ratings problems.

    Bob Weisenberg

  4. Hey, integralhack. Who are you calling "hoi polloi" (and what the hell does that mean, anyway. I assume it's not good.)

    I feel exactly the opposite. Leno makes me laugh every time and I can never get past Conan's stupid silly walks and hiding from the camera, all of which seems designed for a five-year old. He can't seem to avoid constantly drawing attention to himself. Even his self-deprecation comes across as egotistical.

    That said, my business logic would be the same even if I loved Conan.

    Bob Weisenberg

  5. This is very good, I think:

    "Jay Leno tells his side of the story on Oprah"

    Bob Weisenberg