Leave it to NBC to potentially screw up The Tonight Show, a television institution that has been around since 1954, again. Earlier this month, it was "leaked" that Jimmy Fallon would be taking over the late-night talk show from its current host, Jay Leno, and since that information has come out, everything has been a big mess. What is NBC's problem?
If you recall, this is not the first time the network has almost ruined this show. In 2009, Leno "retired" and gave the reins to Conan O'Brien, but NBC screwed it all up by giving Leno a prime-time show before The Tonight Show. After a good deal of nonsense and "Team Conan" T-shirts, O'Brien left and Leno took over again. The whole situation was poorly handled, and it looks like history is going to repeat itself.
The situation now is slightly different but is still going to leave a bad taste in viewers' mouths. Telling the world that Leno is "outta here" a year before his contract runs out puts him in a sort of awkward position. It's like when you know that your high school boyfriend is going to a different college than you are so you figure that cheating on him senior year doesn't really matter anyway. You are totally breaking up eventually. If viewers know that Leno will be gone soon, they might premeditatedly jump ship on him.
Some people in the media are saying that Leno should just leave now, while others think he's going to make NBC feel bad for the next year. He's already started dumping on the network in his opening monologues. Great, so we are going to have to spend the next year watching Leno poop where he eats; that's going to be a good time. Just this week, Fox News reported that a close "source" says that there is no way in hell Leno is leaving before his time and he's going to ride this wave out until it crashes on shore. I hope he does.
I'll be honest, I don't find Leno funny at all, but people do -- his show still has the highest ratings in late night -- and he's been doing this a long, long time. He deserves to exit with some grace, unlike the last time he ended. To me this whole debacle feels like a round of layoffs in which the company only lays off people who are going to retire sooner or later anyway. Just give these people their dignity and let them retire with a big party at Chili's. That's all anyway really wants, isn't it?
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And what about Fallon? Now he's got to bide his time knowing that we know that he knows that we know that he's going to be hosting The Tonight Show soon, and so, like, let's just get on with it already. But if he makes one false move, he could look like a serious a-hole. Nobody wants to be the guy who pisses off Jay Leno. Then you might never get a chance to ride in one of his weird collectable cars.
The bottom line of this, as usual, is that NBC is a fucking mess and needs Les Moonves (of CBS) to come in and clean house. First people he should fire should be the current writers for The Office and whoever greenlit that show Do No Harm.