After a brief stint in the Prime Time club, Jay Leno has recently signed off on NBC’s switch, moving his Tonight Show out of its 10pm slot and back into late night, airing at 11:35pm. Not only will his show be on later at night, but another change NBC is making also cuts his show’s running time in half from one hour to 30 minutes.
This switch has, of course, brought on a myriad of questions about the new NBC lineup, particularly because his show is being cut in half, which begs the question whether or not he will have guests on his show, since he usually fills a half hour with merely his opening monologues and jokes. More questions also arise about the future of Conan O’Brien, who is currently airing at 11:35.
TMZ reported that Conan was given an ultimatum by NBC executives forcing him to decide to move to the midnight to 1am time slot or leave the network. They have also reported that is Conan does decide to leave the NBC network that they will let him go and give Jay Leno his full hour back.
While it most definitely looks like late night television as we have known it for the past several years, NBC was quick to release two statements defending both of the late night personalities.
NBC’s statement on Jay Leno:
“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 issuers for our affiliates. Both Jay and the show are committed to working closely with them to find ways to improve the performance.”
NBC’s statement on Conan:
“We have the best comedy team in the business. We remain committed to keeping Conan O’Brien on NBC. He is a valued part of our late-night line-up, as he has been for more than 16 years and is one of the most respected entertainers on television.”
The new NBC lineup is scheduled to be put in place after the show’s hiatus during the Winter Olympics in February. But will Conan be joining Jay Leno during the new lineup? Only time will tell.