So now that we know that NBC’s commitment to “finding ways to improve the performance” of The Jay Leno Show means they want to chop it in half and put it on 90 minutes later, what might the network’s new proposed late-night schedule mean for its shows and their hosts? And what would a new post-11:30 landscape mean for Dave and Craig? Five huge questions, after the jump.
1. What would Leno do with a half-hour?
On his current show, Leno fills his forty-odd-minutes with a ten-minute monologue, guests, Jaywalking, and other bits. So what will he do with a reduced 22 minutes if NBC forces him into the slot between 11:30 and midnight? Might he go guestless some nights? Would he trim his monologue? Would we never again have to endure another skit like this awful one from last night? Is his humor any less odious in smaller doses?
2. What would this mean for CBS’s lineup?
If Leno returns to 11:30, Conan O’Brien agrees not to leave, and all late-shifting somehow goes off without a hitch, could NBC’s late-night lineup once again beat CBS’s like it used to? Instead of just airing opposite Conan for an hour every night, as he does now, Letterman would compete with Jay at 11:30, and Late Show’s second half-hour (the dull part with the guests) would battle The Tonight Show’s first, which usually contains Conan’s strongest material. Also, the second-string Craig Ferguson would have to compete with Conan for a half hour every night. From a ratings perspective, NBC’s is maybe not the stupidest plan we’ve ever heard.
3. What would NBC put at 10 p.m.?
Damned if they know! If Zucker and his team were better at filling prime time with TV shows, they’d presumably not have put Leno on at 10 in the first place. If Jay moves to 11:30, NBC will have only until the end of the Winter Olympics (February 28) to find a new show (or five new shows!) capable of filling that void. Will they order more Dateline? Steal something from Bravo? Run some awful reality strip? Basically, this will be hilarious.
4. What would being on a half-hour later mean for Conan?
With elderly Leno fans safely in bed by midnight, would NBC let Conan bring back Pimpbot 5000 and the Masturbating Bear?
5. Would NBC keep Carson Daly?
You might not watch it, but Last Call With Carson Daly is actually a solid performer in its current slot at 1:35 a.m., regularly tying or beating ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live!, which airs 90 minutes earlier. But would Daly still be worth his budget to NBC for a show that aired at 2:05 a.m. every night? And how would the ShamWow Guy react if they tell him his infomercials are losing their sweet current time slot?