By Jim Hagerty
Late-night host Jay Leno is returning to his old NBC timeslot. According to network execs, The Jay Leno Show isn’t the ratings-sweeper it was hoped to be. It airs at 9 p.m. locally, and will reportedly return to its 10:35 p.m. slot in March, following pre-empted coverage of the 2010 Winter Olympics. Leno’s show will be shortened to 30 minutes. The last 9 p.m. show will air Feb. 12.
Leno hosted the The Tonight Show from 1992 to 2009. He was succeeded by Conan O’Brien last May.
Ratings have also reportedly taken their toll on Tonight, which would have O’Brien moved to 11:05 p.m. locally, if he chooses to stay with the network. According to O’Brien’s contract, the shift is allowable. However, the former host of Late Night hasn’t formally announced his plans.
If O’Brien does bail, Leno would likely return to The Tonight Show. It is widely rumored O’Brien has been talking to Fox execs while ABC has said it has no interest in adding to its already successful late-night lineup, led by Jimmy Kimmel Live!.
Meantime, Jimmy Fallon, who now hosts Late Night, is secure in his post. Since Fallon took over for O’Brien, the show has been a success and rated higher in at least one category than The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.
Leno and O’Brien have jabbed NBC, with O’Brien saying at the top of a recent show, “Good evening, everybody. I’m Conan O’Brien, the new host of Last Call with Carson Daly.”
Jay Leno’s Monday, Jan. 11, monologue was as flippant: “As you may know, our show has been canceled. NBC has some pilots to fill up the 10 p.m. time slot. They’re talking about bringing back All in the Family, with Harry Reid as Archie Bunker.”
From the Jan. 13-19, 2010 issue.