NBC: Leno in prime-time to end


Published: Sunday, January 10, 2010 at 10:08 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 10, 2010 at 10:08 p.m.

PASADENA, Calif — NBC decided to end the Jay Leno experiment when some of its affiliates started talking about dropping the nightly prime-time show, its top entertainment executive said Sunday.

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In this Aug. 5, 2009 file photo, Jay Leno speaks during the panel for "The Jay Leno Show" at the NBC Universal Television Critics Association summer press tour in Pasadena, Calif. NBC Universal Television Entertainment Chairman Jeff Gaspin on Sunday, Jan. 10, 2010 said that Leno's nightly prime-time show will end with the beginning of the Winter Olympics on Feb. 12.

AP Photo/Matt Sayles, file

NBC Universal Television Entertainment Chairman Jeff Gaspin said Sunday that Leno's nightly prime-time show will end with the beginning of the Winter Olympics on Feb. 12. NBC wants Leno to do an 11:35 p.m. show each night, a return to his old time slot, Gaspin said.

Gaspin said that despite lower ratings for NBC at 10 p.m. compared to last year, the network was making money off the show.

But affiliates were upset that the show was leading fewer viewers into their late news programs, costing them significant advertising revenue. Some affiliates told NBC in December they would go public soon about their complaints if a change wasn't made, or even take Leno's show off the air.

"The drumbeat started getting louder," Gaspin said.

Gaspin has proposed moving Conan O'Brien's "Tonight" show to 12:05 a.m., and Jimmy Fallon's show would start an hour later. But the late-night hosts had not agreed to the move. Gaspin said he expected NBC's late-night situation to be cleared up by the start of the Olympics.

Asked if O'Brien and Fallon expressed anger at his proposal, Gaspin said both men were professional and understanding when they talked. "Beyond that, it was a private conversation," Gaspin said.

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