Monday, January 18, 2010

Late Night Talk Show Smackdown!

I’ve been watching the Leno vs. O’Brien debacle with mixed feelings, mostly about Jay Leno, whom I’ve always admired. He’s a funny, personable guy, no doubt about it. But is he playing fair?

On the pro side:
Leno was Tonight Show host for many years and was very successful at it, whereas Conan O’Brien hasn’t made it to that level. Yet.

Leno is a known property, guaranteed to bring up the ratings. With Conan, the ratings dipped.

Leno will no doubt resume his spot as King of the Late Night Talk Shows, pushing David Letterman to second place once again.

On the con side:

Leno quit the Tonight Show.

Leno wasn’t a hit in an earlier slot.

Leno wants a “Do Over” during the Tonight Show time slot.

Okay, that’s my instant analysis, as they say on television. If I were an NBC exec or an ad sponsor, I’d be focused solely on the ratings, so the question of fair play would be a moot point.

If I were a sympathetic person, however, I would argue that Conan hasn’t had more than three months to establish his audience, which is the blink of an eye in TV years, and should be given more of a chance.

And did I mention that Leno voluntarily gave up his seat behind the Tonight Show desk?

So what is your verdict? Whether you’re a fan or not, did Leno play fair? Should he have been given that time slot back?

Oh, and one more TV-based question: Are you as eager for the return of LOST as I am?

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