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Marianne Paskowski

Sorry NBC, I’m Following Leno

July 25, 2008 9:51 AM

Now it’s official: Jay Leno’s last “Tonight Show” broadcast is May 29 and Conan O’Brien will inherit the throne.

It’s been widely reported that Leno will land his own show on ABC, and if that’s the case, count on me to be in the audience.

Frankly, I just can’t understand why NBC would let Leno go, given that his show consistently wins the time period. Personally, I think the switch is all about NBC trying to lure younger demos, hence O’Brien.

To me, O’Brien is an acquired taste who just doesn’t appeal to my palate at all. Leno is part of my evening ritual. He makes for a better night’s sleep than O’Brien, whom I find sophomoric.

So if Leno goes to ABC, will you be following him there, like me?


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Comments (26)


No. Leno is about as funny as juvenile leukemia.

Matt Robillard:

In lieu of a sleeping pill, I too take Leno. Sedation describes his whole act. Now he's whining that NBC has given him and his sleepwalk of a show the hook! Conan is, or was, America's best-kept comedy secret, and Zucker was prescient and gutsy to make the call last year when he needed too. Conan and his people represent the future of comedy, and the NBC brand will benefit significantly by his enhanced presence. The mediocre malaise of Leno's show has contributed to the decline of comedy on all the networks, whereas Carson's show, and now Conan's, challenges audiences to demand higher standards of what passes for funny in this country.

Marianne Paskowski:

Conan is a one trick pony. Actually I like Jon Stewart better than Conan or Leno, and of course I adore Bill Maher.

Thanks for your two cents,

Marianne Paskowski:

I challenge you to tell me one really funny line Conan ever uttered. If I'm still up at that hour, I'd rather watch a rerun of "Frazier" or "The Golden Girls."

Anyhow, thanks for your post,


Good topic and good points. If it ain't broke, don't fix it - right? It's tough to tell someone who is #1 that they are being replaced. However, I think it is exactly what you said - they are trying to reach that younger demo that Conan would attract. My dad watches Leno every night after the local news and I really don't think he will watch Conan. But if they kept Leno, you know Conan would go to FOX and create his own stir in Late Fringe. NBC wouldn't want that to happen either. I will admit that I am a little nervous about the NBC station I work for continuing to win Late Fringe once the switch happens.

Oh, and Golden Girls? Are you serious? haha.

Marianne Paskowski:

Good point about Conan going to Fox, but still, NBC is taking a big gamble here.

And yes Joe, I am serious about "Golden Girls." And FYI, Lifetime is having an all day Golden Girls marathon in memory of Estelle Getty, who dies this week, who played Sophia.

And no, I'm not watching that, I'm glued to CNBC during the day watching the market give back as the Russian market turns bearish, Chrysler announces it will stop leasing cars and the Mexican peso is getting slammed.

Thanks for your post and good luck at NBC:}


Jim Forkan :

Hi Marianne,
I too will follow Jay Leno if he goes over to ABC. He's a lot funnier than Letterman, Conan, etc. (About the only halfway amusing thing on Letterman is his "Top 10.")
For some reason, Leno is the late night Rodney Dangerfield -- he "don't get no respect!" I seem to recall that a few years ago when Leno and Letterman were in the running for Carson's seat, Leno was not the favorite.
But the people have spoken. Leno is the late night ratings powerhouse. You notice that NBC is keeping him on thru the May sweeps!

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Jim,
Good point about NBC keeping Leno on through May sweeps. That'll give Conan some time to play in the deep shadows of summer.

But who knows, what if Leno lands another show at NBC? I doubt that will happen, he told USA Today, "I'm out of here" meaning NBC.

Good to hear from you, and hope all is well,



Yo, Blondie --

O'Brien is as funny as a sober frat boy in traffic court. I'll follow Leno, thank you.

No wonder NBC is the ratings laggard, GE runs the network with as much excitement as hawking dishwashers. But that's just an opinion, which, judging from earlier posts, run all over the map about who's funny on TV who isn't. I can't wait to see the suits who concocted the Leno ouster find the last laugh is about them.

Cruisin not bruisin


well marianne you are the leno demographic so you should follow him. conan and jimmy fallon will bring a younger demo and larger ad margins to nbc late night which is what they want. leno will go to abc. nightline fans will follow it to cnn and letterman will be gone in 2010 when his deal ends and jon stewart takes over. now that just leaves fox who also wants back into latenight with something more urban, but proven - chris rock????

there is no question i will follow Leno, is there any debate about that one. i have started watching some of his popular video clips on hulu, zoogatv and tidaltv. O'Brein is no Leno

Here's the thing about the whole Leno situation.

He didn't have to give up The Tonight Show. I think the whole "wanting to keep Conan" mentality at NBC kind of gotten the best of them, but Leno didn't have to go along with it. I'm almost certain that he thought that Conan would just be content at Late Night, and the status quo would remain for another 15 years.

If you kind of think about it, Leno is in the place Johnny Carson was when NBC got rid of him. Carson could have lasted another seven or so years if NBC let him. Instead, they wanted someone younger and hipper. David Letterman could (and should) have been the host of The Tonight Show after Johnny's "retirement." He remains Carson's heir apparent and, almost 30 years later, continues to be a part of American households. However, NBC went with Leno instead. Letterman could have brought in the younger crowd, but instead, NBC wanted to play it safe.

Leno was safe and had a manager with bigger . . . ahem, a manager that was very persuasive in what she did, ruling the show and wanted nothing to do with her predecessors.

Safe is nice, but safe belongs before prime-time. If I was NBC, I'd give the affiliates back the fourth hour they took back for Today, but replace it with a post-Nightly News hour slot, which could harken back to the Merv Griffin Show as a prime-time "late night" show, live on the East Coast and truly fresh. It'd have the same format at The Tonight Show, but for a family crowd and a good jumpstart before the primetime lineup. You know, boost the audience for the Peacock.

I had that idea on my site almost a year ago and in my head for about a minute. It'd probably be years before NBC think of something that plausible.

By the way, about Conan, I know he's not everyone's cup of tea, but if you actually looked at the show, you could see that Conan's closer to Carson than Leno is, at least style-wise. He's not a straight-forward comedian like Leno is, but he is very intelligent and comedic, and it shows in his interviews and sketches.

Look at some of the writers' strike-era episodes and his on-the-street locale shoots for some of Conan at his best. Oh, and watch the classic Simpsons episode "Marge vs. The Monorail," written by Mr. O'Brien himself. Still one of the greatest episodes of The Simpsons over a decade after it premiered.

One more thing.

I would have tapped someone like Dmetri Martin over Jimmy Fallon as the host of Late Night when Conan leaves. Yes, he's young, but he's like a strange amalgamation of Leno and Conan, a stand-up guy with intelligence and wit, and he definitely connects with the college-age audience Conan still maintains.

Marianne Paskowski:

The problem with NBC is that GE owns it. I agree with many Wall Street traders that GE should sell NBCU after the Olympics and rationalize its hydra-head business.

NBCU deserves better the Immelt.


Marianne Paskowski:

Yes I am a baby boomer, but I'm a boomer with two blogs and there is no stereotype for boomers, we've made it up as we go along, and will continue to rewrite the rules and leave the rest of you in our dust, or with our ashes our your mantels:}

All kidding aside, broadcast really needs Jon Stewart. He rocks.

Marianne Paskowski:

Jeff Harris,
Not to be confused with a couple of other Jeff's who frequent the blog. I basically like your 3-dimensional chess strategy to fix the NBC mess with one exception: Letterman. He's for the Prozac crowd.

Thanks for the post and post, post.


Hey Marianne,
What a great topic this week. I am right in the demo (in fact, I'm in the 18-34 demo that is very highly prized in late night). Leno has always had the best monologue if you ask me. Conan is like a puppy on crack. Its very acquired, even for my types. I'm not sold he can draw in the younger crowd, but Aaron Barnhardt of tvbarn.com says NBC will have Leno under contract long enough that by the time he gets on ABC, people will have moved on. I for one, think, Fallon will get crushed at 12:30. He and several others represent what has been wrong with Saturday Night Live for years. Craig Ferguson is latenight's best kept secret if you ask me. For as little promotion and money he gets, Ferguson puts on one helluvah show each night. Letterman is deteriorating. Stewart is just waiting by there. He could win it all when he finally emerges. Jimmy Kimmel is also very funny on ABC. I think a Leno, Kimmel latenight would work well for ABC, outdoing Nightline (which can just as well be put six feet under). To be completely honest though, I'd rather watch Seinfeld, Family Guy, and George Lopez repeats before bedtime.

Marianne Paskowski:

Glad you like the topic. I stayed up and watched Conan last night, likes what with the hair? Couldn't concentrate on what he was saying at all because I kept staring at the "do."

Guys, how does get get that puff to stay put?:}

Chi-town Mike:

When Conan first arrived on the scene, (back with side show Andy) he was funny and original, but the new car smell wore off way too quickly for me. I maybe watch part of Conan maybe once a month (if that), it's just not the same as the type of overall entertainment that Leno brings. I was too young to "truly" enjoy Carson, but I remember the sendoff that he had. Compared to Johnny's reign, Jay is getting screwed. I'll be following him as well.

BTW - Huge fan of Jon Stewart and his work as well! He would be the perfect candidate to replace Conan if Conan can't bring the Letterman numbers when those two go head to head... :)


Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Chi,

I, too, would love to see Jon Stewart go head to head with Letterman, and I prefer Stewart over Leno.
Actually, now that Stephen Colbert has his own show, I'm getting to like him a lot too.

Loved Carson's timing, he was at his best when a joke bombed.

Thanks for the post, the crowd up here seems pretty split about their preferences.


Eric Gronwaldt:

Top Ten Reasons I don't Watch Leno
10. Weak Local News Lead in
9. 3 year old dropped remote in potty
8. Enjoy suspense of "Throwdown with Bobby Flay" on Food Network
7. Have to let Dog out
6. Can't watch "Today" promos since Katie left
5. Have to Let Dog in
4. No number 4, writer fell asleep during Jay's monologue
3. Surfing internet researching creative Mortgage financing for my friend Ed McMahon
2. Kevin Eubanks is no Skitch Henderson
1. The wife likes Letterman

Marianne Paskowski:

How refreshing to hear a man admit his wife has control of the remote!

Thanks for your post, fun read,

Linda Tatum:

Jay Leno 100%. End of sentence!

I will follow him wherever he goes!

When everyone thinks alike, no one is thinking...........


Letterman's getting a little stale for my tastes, especially in his monologue. How many more jokes can we hear about how hot it is, or a squirrel and his nuts. He delivers it better than Jay does, though; Jay's jokes take too long to set up, and you can see his eyes reading the cue card. According to me, Dave's a more genuinely funny man than Jay.

It's hard to argue with success, though. How does one explain that, when Letterman returned with fresh episodes during the writer's strike, he still couldn't beat a "Tonight" with no writers? That had to be debilitating to "Late Show" people.

Conan, I agree, is an acquired taste, but so was Letterman. Maybe he'll do fine. Nobody expected him to last two years when he started, so he's a proven survivor if nothing else.

Marianne Paskowski:

Good point about Leno beating Letterman with no writers. NBC has been making some strange decisions lately, and why they would want to much with success, Leno, is beyond my comprehension.

Marianne Paskowski:

Clearly you are a woman with excellent taste:}
Thanks for chiming in,

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