BREAKING: NBC Allegedly Returns Jay Leno to 11:30 Time Slot, Bumps Conan
TMZ is reporting that Jay Leno will abandon prime time when the Winter Olympics begin on February 1 and return to his beloved 11:30 PM time slot when the games finish later that month. Although both Leno and Conan O'Brien know about the time shifts, it is uncertain whether Jay Leno's 11:30 PM show will be a full hour or a half hour and if the Tonight Show host will stay at NBC. The breaking story comes after NBC made a statement this morning in defense of Leno, calling him one of the "most compelling entertainers in the world today."
Media outlets and industry insiders have been speculating that NBC would yank The Jay Leno Show from its 10 PM perch as its ratings continued to dip, at one point even dropping below competing cable programming numbers.
Jay Leno famously ceded his Tonight Show throne to O'Brien last year to embark on an unprecedented network prime time talk show. Leno signed on for four years (with NBC's option to bow out after two) amidst critical outcries that the production cost-effective move would undermine the scripted community. Conan O'Brien moved his staff to Los Angeles last spring and taped his first episode of the Tonight Show at NBC Universal on June 1, 2009. Jay Leno assumed his new time slot on September 14, 2009 to mediocre reviews claiming that his new Leno show was very much the old Leno show, with a few tweaks like a deskless set, an "Earn Your Plug" segment and a Ford-sponsored Green Car Challenge.
Nikki Finke reported this morning that NBC Universal chief Jeff Zucker arrived in Los Angeles last night to take meetings and tour NBC Universal's West Coast for the week.