ABC Would Be Happy to Have Leno and Kimmel

Jul 16, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Jay Leno and Jimmy Kimmel can peacefully co-exist at ABC.
That’s the word from ABC Entertainment President Steve McPherson, who Wednesday told reporters there’s no reason Mr. Leno and Mr. Kimmel can’t share the same network.
NBC has confirmed that Conan O’Brien will take over “The Tonight Show” from Mr. Leno in 2009.
“There’s absolutely room for both,” Mr. McPherson said during a scrum with journalists following his formal session with reporters at ABC’s press tour session.
Mr. McPherson went out of his way to make sure reporters know ABC doesn’t consider Mr. Kimmel an afterthought in its late-night strategy.
“He’s going to be an asset for us for many years to come,” he said of Mr. Kimmel. Earlier in the day, ABC drove the point home by having Mr. Kimmel pose as a reporter during the start of Mr. McPherson’s session.
Mr. Kimmel peppered Mr. McPherson with questions about whether Mr. Leno might be headed to ABC or whether a certain late-night host (Mr. Kimmel) might respond angrily if Mr. Leno ended up at ABC.
Mr. Kimmel, posing as reporter “Tom Weinerman,” peppered Mr. McPherson with questions about whether Mr. Leno might be headed to ABC or whether a certain late-night host (Mr. Kimmel) might respond angrily if Mr. Leno ended up at ABC.
“If you were even to talk to Jay Leno, wouldn’t that be like contract tampering? Wouldn’t that be illegal? Couldn’t you go to jail for that?” he asked.
The clear goal of the exercise: To show that Mr. Kimmel is aware of the fact that Mr. Leno is on ABC’s wish list, and everybody seems OK with that idea.
Mr. McPherson, expanding on comments he first made at ABC’s upfront presentation in May, said he is still perplexed by NBC’s apparent willingness to say goodbye to Mr. Leno.
“I can’t believe that they’re going to let this guy go at the top of his game,” Mr. McPherson said.
(10 a.m.: Corrected name of Mr. Leno’s show)


  1. Ahh yes. NBC does it again. What the hell were they thinking by letting Jay Leno go since he has brought the network up in ratings by quite a margin.
    Maybe the owners should reconsider the current management and have a sit down heart to heart talk with them. Basically, shape up or ship out. There are many talented people that can run the network up instead of running it down.

  2. Wherever Leno surfaces so will the Tonight Show audience. Conan is fine but will his schtick play after the 11pm news? ABC or Fox is going to grab Leno and stick him right up against Conan and Letterman.

  3. Um…you might want to edit your article to say that Conan is taking over for Jay on “The Tonight Show” not “Late Night.” Jimmy Fallon is taking over for Conan on “Late Night.”

  4. When, and I underline when, Conan lets his real self cut through the schtick, he could fill the new job. His contrived side will never cut the 11:35 audience, nor should it. He needs to breath and relax, if not, then I see a comparatively short run of him. Many guests go on his show for the person they know him to be off air…that’s the guy America will embrace.
    As for the thinking behind NBC’s letting go of Jay, I have no answer. He has been a license for the Peacock to print money, lots of money.
    Far be it from me to understand the network programming execs of today. The last ones who sat solid and dealt straight forward were, at NBC it was Tarticoff, at CBS it was Bud Grant.
    So, sit back and enjoy the show…lots of promos coming up along with headlines, breaking stories and general broohaha…and eventually the ratings of the new stuff all in HD…stay tuned.
    Peter Bright

  5. Can you guys just give Conan a chance?! I bet you all forgot the heat that Leno took when he took the spot Letterman should have had. People said that he was not deserving of anything but now he is number 1 in ratings. They said that he wasnt Tonight Show ready nor worthy but they were all wrong. Leno at first agreed to move on to stop any controversy but now he is going back on his word. NBC decided to move on which is what they are doing. I love Conan’s show. He always brightens up my day! Sure he will have to mature his comedy and I am sure he knows that. Please just give him a chance!

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