Monday, January 11, 2010

NBC's Leno back to late nights

Los Angeles, California (CNN) -- NBC host Jay Leno is going back to late nights after a low-rated experiment in prime time, the network announced Sunday.

Leno's prime-time talk show, which debuted in September, "didn't meet affiliates' needs," said Jeff Gaspin, chairman of NBC Universal Television Entertainment.
The program will go off the air February 12, when the 2010 Winter Olympics begin.

The network is now negotiating with Leno and its current late-night hosts, Conan O'Brien and Jimmy Fallon, to decide who ends up with which time slot, Gaspin said.
The goal is to keep all three hosts, but nothing was a done deal as of Sunday, he said.
O'Brien took over NBC's flagship "Tonight Show" when Leno moved to the 10 p.m. slot in September. Fallon took over O'Brien's former show, "Late Night." Gaspin said the new plan is for Leno to take over a shortened "Tonight Show," with O'Brien moving back to "Late Night" at midnight and Fallon hosting a new show at 1 a.m.

Reports of the shakeup first emerged last week. Leno dismissed them on his show on Thursday night, telling his audience, "It's always been my experience NBC only cancels you when you're in first place."
Leno's move to prime time was a risk for NBC, because it put a talk show up against scripted prime-time shows and ran it five days a week. Network spokeswoman Rebecca Marks said last week that Leno performed "exactly as we anticipated on the network," but the show created some issues for NBC's affiliates -- issues she declined to explain.


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