Update (8:01 p.m.): The Times’ Bill Carter reports: “NBC has a plan in the works to radically alter its late-night television lineup, restoring Jay Leno to his old spot at 11:35 each weeknight, while pushing the man who replaced him, Conan O’Brien, to a starting time of 12:05 a.m. … The third NBC late-night star, Jimmy Fallon, would then begin his show at 1:05 a.m., the executives said. The revised lineup would go into effect after NBC concludes its coverage of the Winter Olympics on February 28.”
So here is something interesting: TMZ claims The Jay Leno Show will go on hiatus on February 1, with Jay returning to his old time slot at 11:30 following the conclusion of the Winter Olympics. Still reportedly undecided, though, is whether his show would be reduced to a half hour and followed by Conan’s, or if NBC would dump Conan altogether. TMZ says both hosts have been told changes are forthcoming. A mealymouthed statement from NBC is expected shortly. Also, you know who we bet is a little nervous today? Jimmy Kimmel.
If true, we suppose ousting Conan would technically make more sense than dumping Leno, much of whose 11:30 audience split when Conan succeeded him on The Tonight Show in June. Though Jay’s current ratings are too crappy for primetime, they’re better than Conan’s, at least. But could Leno ever again be the late-night powerhouse he once was? All these lineup changes are probably confusing the crap out of elderly viewers.
Anyway, though, poor Conan! Maybe if the worst should happen, he can finally move back to New York? Surely his pale, flammable Irish skin could use some out of the California sun. We bet Fox or ABC would be happy to pay his moving expenses.