Monday, December 08, 2008

NBC To Give Jay Leno 10 pm Timeslot

Killing two birds with one shot. Save production costs on some likely bomb programs and go with a known quantity. Can he pull in a sizable enough audience night after night to go up against established network shows in that timeslot?

We'll find out.
NBC is expected to announce Tuesday that it has signed its late-night star Jay Leno to a new contract that will keep him at the network in a new format that will give him the 10 p.m. time period each weeknight for a show similar to the one he has done on NBC’s “Tonight Show” show since 1993.

Five years ago NBC announced that it would give the job of host of that franchise late-night show to Conan O’Brien in May 2010. Since then the network has maneuvered to try to keep Mr. Leno, who continues to be the late-night ratings leader, at the network in some capacity, fearing that he could leave and start a new late-night show on a competitor.

Mr. Leno was known to have suitors, including ABC, the Fox network and the Sony television studio. The new show is expected to be set in Mr. Leno’s longtime studio in Burbank, Calif. Mr. O’Brien will move the “Tonight” show to a new studio on the NBC Universal lot in Universal City, Calif.

No broadcast network has ever before offered the same show in prime time five nights a week. Such so-called “stripped shows” have been a staple of daytime broadcasting.

The offer of a new weeknight show for Mr. Leno at 10 p.m., an idea that NBC executives said Monday came from the NBC chief executive, Jeff Zucker, not only allows NBC to retain Mr. Leno’s services, but also means the network may be able to greatly reduce costs of developing and producing other prime-time shows.

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