Thursday, March 28, 2013
And yet, it’s the buzz of the TV media. My question is why? This isn’t 1962 or even 1992.
So when Johnny Carson announced he was retiring it sent shock waves throughout the industry. Think: Regis Philbin times a thousand. The battle between David Letterman and Jay Leno for that coveted spot became the stuff of high drama, a page-turner book, and truly cheesy movie-of-the-week.
But twenty years have passed. THE TONIGHT SHOW is no longer invincible. After over three decades of dominance those late night riches were finally up for grabs. Add to that the proliferation of cable channels and suddenly every network joined the gab wars. Magic Johnson. George Lopez. Rush Limbaugh. Stephanie Miller. FrankCaliendo. Arsenio Hall. Chevy Chase for godsakes. And don’t forget NIGHTLINE on ABC and THE DAILY SHOW/COLBERT REPORT on Comedy Central. Not to mention CHEERS reruns.
A few years ago there was that big shakeup when NBC saboteur, Jeff Zucker moved Jay Leno to primetime and promoted Conan O’Brien to TONIGHT SHOW host. Both ends of that genius move blew up spectacularly, and when NBC tried to go back to the way things were it became water cooler fodder for weeks.
And then when it was over, Jay went back to getting his usual numbers, and after much speculation, Conan wound up on TBS and after one week, no one watches.
So here we go again. It’s like who will win SURVIVOR 154? It’s no longer really important… or important at all.
Especially when you think all these late night changes are being made to chase younger viewers and they don’t have the same viewing habits as their parents. People accuse sitcoms of being tired, well how about talk shows? What’s more stale than a guy in a suit delivering a lousy monologue then interviewing Paul Rudd who has a new boxoffice bomb coming out on Friday? The days when THE TONIGHT SHOW was a nighttime ritual are gone. Many viewers the networks want are watching clips of the shows on YouTube. They’re DVRing the shows and skipping right to the Emma Watson interview.
So Jimmy Fallon will take over THE TONIGHT SHOW. And Jimmy Kimmell is on ABC. Sooner or later Dave will give way to Craig Ferguson (unless Julie Chen wants it). And the ratings battle will continue as usual although for smaller numbers.
I feel I should have soap opera organ music under the following questions:
When will NBC make the switch? Where will Jay Leno land? Will Fallon maintain Jay’s numbers? Will THE TONIGHT SHOW move back to New York? Will the audience be confused when there are two hosts named Jimmy? Is Conan even still on the air?
And the big question: Do you really care?
Unless there’s some delicious twist like Jay puts a hit out on Kimmell, Dave becomes an orthodox Jew, or I wind up replacing Jay with Sasha Grey as my sidekick then my answer is nah.
By Ken Levine at 6:00 AM