Surprise: Jay Leno to stay at NBC in move to prime time

December 9, 2008

New York (ChattahBox) — According to the New York Times, NBC has signed its late-night star Jay Leno to a contract that will keep him at the network and move him to prime time. Many people were expecting Jay Leno, who took over “Tonight” from Johnny Carson in 1992, to leave the peacock network once his contract at the Tonight Show was up, as he was unceremoniously dumped to make room for Conan O’Brien, the long-running program’s new host.

Insiders predicted that the other networks would offer Leno still a ratings draw after all these years, a wheelbarrow full of money to leave.

Under the new deal, Leno, whose “Tonight” show hosting job will go to Conan O’Brien next June, would have a new show airing at 10 p.m. Eastern every weeknight. No broadcast network has ever before offered this type of nightly show during prime time, so this is quite a vindication and coup for Leno.

The move is a win-win situation for NBC, who is currently fourth in the ratings – behind ABC, Fox and CBS. Not only do they keep Leno and keep a competitor from getting him (avoiding him becoming a rival to O’Brien), but since they’re hurting in the ratings, they have nothing to lose by giving up their 10 P.M. time slot. The cost-cutting network, who has recently been laying off hundreds of employees, may be able to greatly reduce costs of developing and producing other prime-time shows by having Leno on at 10. A talk show significantly reduce programming costs compared to most scripted dramatic series.

And, Jay is bound to bring in viewers and advertising. His farewell as “Tonight” host is next May 29.

Reported by: Hot Momma Celebrity Gossip


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