Jay Leno Moving To 10 P.M. On NBC?

NBC reportedly has signed its late-night star Jay Leno to a contract that will keep him at the network and move him to prime time.

Under the new deal, Leno, whose "Tonight" show hosting job will go to Conan O'Brien next June, would have a new show airing 10 p.m. Eastern every weeknight, according to The New York Times.

The deal reportedly will be announced Tuesday.

The arrangement would enable NBC to hold on to Leno, who might have jumped to a competing network, and even been on the air as a rival to O'Brien.

It also stands to significantly reduce programming costs for the struggling network, which has long been No. 4 in the ratings and last week laid off 500 employees. Leno's five-a-week talk-variety format would be considerably cheaper to produce than most scripted dramatic series.

This "strip" scheduling is common other times of the day, but seldom seen in prime time. Such a money-saving move was foreshadowed Monday by NBC Universal chief executive Jeff Zucker in remarks during an investor conference in New York. He said the network would have to consider scaling back the number of hours it airs programming.

Leno, who took over "Tonight" from Johnny Carson in 1992, is effectively being evicted from its anchor desk under a deal NBC announced four years ago that guaranteed the job to "Late Night" host O'Brien.

Aimed at keeping O'Brien at NBC, the plan also guaranteed the network five more years of Leno's services at 11:35 p.m., where he continues to reign as late-night ratings champ. But it put NBC in danger of losing Leno, whose future subsequently became a matter of much speculation. His farewell as "Tonight" host is next May 29.

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  • by Tad Location: Jamesville on Dec 9, 2008 at 10:21 PM
    CitizenDoug, you must work for NBC or obama. You can spin this any way you please, the bottom line is that NBC is struggling to survive. Jeff Zucker has allowed his leftist political agenda to tank this once proud network.
  • by Kimo Location: Belhaven on Dec 9, 2008 at 12:50 PM
    Oh my!! How clever those NBC folks are. It's no wonder they are at the bottom of the ratings. I'll bet that Letterman can't wait for Conan to show up opposite him so that he (DL) can then be the leader in that time slot
  • by Obama Snake Oil Co Location: Washington on Dec 9, 2008 at 10:23 AM
    First to clarify Obrien and Letterman: they ain't making it. Leno isn't just for older audiences, he is funny to all. Obrien and Letterman, well, they fit the "liberal" agenda. Yes, both cater to "those" people. This is why Leno, who is in the middle wins the ratings hands down. Remember the media that got Obama elected, they are still there. Politics are in most everything these days and this is just another example. Of all of the ratings out there, Fox news takes the new, Leno, the comedy and if you want documentaries, you go to learning or history channel. GE, who owns NBC is out of touch with people now. They have their own agenda and you aren't part of it.
  • by CitizenDoug Location: All around my house on Dec 9, 2008 at 10:06 AM
    Good move. NBC keeps Jay from going to another network and they save a bundle on 5 hours of programming. I also suspect Jay's aging audience will appreciate the earlier broadcast hour.
  • by Wilma Location: LA, CA on Dec 9, 2008 at 09:01 AM
    Who cares?
  • by Craig Location: G-Vegas on Dec 9, 2008 at 08:30 AM
    They should move this stuff to HBO or some other pay network. Why don't they use those time slots for something worth while like documentaries or something with at least a smidge of educational value. that would be fine by me. Move Leno, Letterman, and whoever else to the comedy channel. That would be a good spot for them.
  • by Sam Location: Williamston on Dec 9, 2008 at 07:16 AM
    I wish that CBS would move the Late Show with David Letterman up to ten! I could see it more often.
  • by Dwayne Location: Greenville on Dec 9, 2008 at 07:08 AM
    Must be slim pickins' for NBC.
  • by Anonymous on Dec 9, 2008 at 06:17 AM
    Jay is getting older -- he probably wants to be in bed earlier.. :)
  • by Chip Location: NOVA on Dec 9, 2008 at 06:10 AM
    NBC saved their butts~! Conan evidently is popular with the younger generation but does nothing for me, an old Johnny Carson fan. Leno is the best~! I'll look forward to his comedy and getting to bed earlier~!
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