Sunday, December 14, 2008

The real story behind Jay Leno moving to primetime


BURNS: Smithers, get in here!

SMITHERS (entering): Yes sir, Mr. Burns.

BURNS: Which network do I own again?

SMITHERS: That would be NBC, sir.

BURNS: Damn it! That’s what I was afraid of. Have you seen our 4th quarter earnings?

SMITHERS: Shocklingly low profit margin, yes.

BURNS: I won’t have it! What’s the point of being in business if you can’t gouge the public?

SMITHERS: Well, the entire nation is in a depression.

BURNS: And whose fault is that?

SMITHERS: Nor yours, sir. The New York Yankees.

BURNS: That’s right. It’s always someone else's fault. The New York Yankees! Good thinking, Smithers. $161 million for that C.C. Sabathia and he’s built like Homer Simpson.

SMITHERS: But on the bright side for us, the National Dog Show got big numbers. Of course that’s only once a year and during the afternoon…

BURNS: Smithers, we’re making big changes at NBC!


BURNS: I’ve decided to put Jay Leno on every night at 10.

SMITHERS: Monday through Friday?

BURNS: For now. Seven nights if they keep showing Baltimore Ravens games on Sunday Night Football. And do we really need seventeen people on the halftime show? Fire Keith Olbermann and any twelve.

SMITHERS: But sir, putting Leno on five nights a week. That’s like cutting our primetime by a third.

BURNS: I’ll save millions!!!

SMITHERS: Yes, but isn’t that like saying NBC is giving up?

BURNS: We already gave up! Don’t you remember FEAR FACTOR?

SMITHERS: But still. Why would people watch Jay Leno in primetime?

BURNS: I don’t know why they watch him now.

SMITHERS: Have you seen his demographics? In the coveted 18-34 category – which is all any of us give a shit about anymore -- twelve Amish kids in Pennsylvania.

BURNS: Have him bring Frank Sinatra on. That’ll get the kids. Those little bobbysoxers go crazy for that crooner.

SMITHERS: What if we just aired another LAW & ORDER? The whole parade-crowd-control side of police work has been virtually untouched.

BURNS: LAW & ORDER is expensive! All dramas are expensive. All of television is expensive. If Dr. Gene Scott weren't dead I’d put him and his big chair on 19 hours a day and just forget about it.

SMITHERS: You’d go to Christian programming?

BURNS: Better 19 hours of Christian programming than one hour of Christian Slater. Whose bright idea was that?

SMITHERS: Don’t worry, sir. The person responsible for that debacle fired three of his underlings and blamed them so it’s been taken care of.

BURNS: Good! Good! I love decisive action!

SMITHERS: So your decision is final?

BURNS: Yes it is. We save money, we cost actors and writers and directors jobs – that’ll teach those so-called “creative types” for wanting fair wages – and we stay in business just long enough to carry the Golden Globes.

SMITHERS: Your table is already reserved.

BURNS: Frances McDormand is nominated this year! She wants me, Smithers. I can tell.

SMITHERS: You do ooze charisma, sir. From every leaky pore.

BURNS: Maybe we could give her a show every night at 9. Yes! Yes! Who cares if I’m destroying broadcast television as we know it? I might get a little action!

MUSIC UP: NBC chimes.



Anonymous said...

Holy crap that's funny. Biting, too. What's the over/under on Leno's stint in prime time?

D. said...

Just as a slight nitpick, Burns never remembers Homer's name. It's always Smithers who supplies "one of your mindless drones in Sector 7G" or something to that effect.

Anonymous said...

Any chance you can get Harry Shearer (assuming you're friends) to voice this and put it on Le Show?

Anonymous said...

Talk about Christian programing, bring in Pat Robertson, his CBN makes more money than CBS, ABC and NBC combined. And it's all tax free - except what he gives to support the Republican Party.

Ger Apeldoorn said...

Most popular show on Dutch tv is a talkshow that gets broadcast every day from 7.30 till 8.30...

Ger Apeldoorn said...

That should be 19.30 till 20.30.

Hollie Nell said...

I love this! So funny... But satire on the whole debacle.

Still sad for all the the actors, writers, and crew that will lose money and career moves with this crap decision.

Cameron Clarke said...

Do you have any stories about John Swartzwelder when you wrote your episodes for The Simpsons? In almost all commentaries for The Simpsons, the writers praise him for his superhuman ability to write a hilarious script equally smart and stupid. I've got four of his books, and I haven't been disappointed.

Also, who is/was your favorite writer for The Simpsons?

stålar said...

"Parade crowd control"... funny stuff! The one most pissed about all of this though must surely be Conan O'Brien?

Anonymous said...

Really good, you had a perfect flow going right up until you had Smithers say "shit" - that threw me right off. A slight edit, maybe?

Anonymous said...

I don't suppose there is any chance that the actors who normally make up the roster for Jay's guests will boycott this show. Would be pretty boring without the celebs!

Mary Stella said...

I'm going to nitpick the nitpickers -- Ken's a comic genius and when I'm laughing my butt off at something like this skit, I don't care if Burns never remembers Homer's name or if Smithers says shit.

Your nitpicking threw off the flow of the comments.

vw: picen -- Did someone go picen in your cornflakes this morning so you couldn't just read and enjoy?

Anonymous said...

Hell, I'd watch another LAW & ORDER.

Anonymous said...

The one most pissed about all of this though must surely be Conan O'Brien?

a former Simpsons writer....hmmm.....

Anonymous said...

Hey, wait a minute. I think you've stumbled onto something. We don't need no stinkin' narrative, not even in animation. This works so great, let's change formats. From now we're The Ventriloquism Channel. So, uh, what kinda' voice you wanna give the peacock? I'm thinkin' Louise Lasser.

Anonymous said...

I don't have cable or satellite and in our area the only channel the tv antenna brings in is NBC . . . and I still never watch Leno.

Anonymous said...

Mary Stella and I are busy building a back door for the nitpickers, so they can leave quietly through the rear, and take their nits with them.

It's not like we're paying for Ken's hard work. If ya don't enjoy, just shut up and leave.

Sorry - they just got on my last nerve.

Anonymous said...

I haven't read much commentary on this movie, but I did notice that NBC is admitting up front they don't expect it to get good ratings. That say that doesn't matter because the show will be so cheap to produce.

But has anyone pointed out what having a ratings dead zone at 10 Eastern\9 Central every freakin' night is going to do for the entire network lineup, not to mention what it's going to do for affilate newscasts?


Anonymous said...

BRILLIANT! "parade crowd control" ROFL!

Zac F. said...

I hope I wasn't the only who read that in their voices.

Great stuff, Ken. Keep it up.

Anonymous said...

Gene Scott may be dead, but I'm in favor of giving a time slot to his widow, who is carrying on his bizarrely entrancing "ministry." Melissa may or may have not been a porn star, may or may not speak several languages, and sure knows how to fill up a whiteboard with impressive scribbling.
Team her up wiht Kevin Eubanks and you've got a surefire boffo entertainment extravanganza!

Anonymous said...

If there's a favorite writer on The Simpsons, it's got to be Jon Swartzwelder. I notice in commentaries even his fellow writers and producers seem to be in pure awe of his work, usually on Homer-centric episodes.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I am a former "Simpsons" writer and it's true that Swartzwelder's first drafts were always hilarious... even his outlines were full of great jokes. And while the show has certainly had some great writers over the years, and I'm happy to see someone shine a light on John, I would also say that for a very, very long time, George Meyer was the heart and soul of the Simpsons... a very funny heart and soul.

Anonymous said...

Money-saving tip for NBC: Instead of real celebrity guests for Leno, just have Frank Caliendo come out and imitate one or two each night. Half the country probably won't even notice, except to say something like, "Hey, that Jerry Seinfeld fella needs to sign up for Jenny Craig."

Anonymous said...

"Better 19 hours of Christian programming than one hour of Christian Slater."

I lol'd.

Anonymous said...

"In the coveted 18-34 category – which is all any of us give a shit about anymore --"

At the beginning of this year I signed up to respond to surveys from NBC, mistakenly thinking that they actually might want the information. I have not had the opportunity to answer a single one, although they've asked numerous times. The link in the email takes me to a page that asks my gender and age after which hitting the submit button always takes me to a page that says my input in unnecessary.

I should have known better.

Anonymous said...

A possible question for your Friday Q&As:

What were the main differences between writing comedy for live action vs cartoons? Did you prefer one to the other?


Longtime Reader, First Time Poster

Anonymous said...

diane, will you never learn? You had us at "In the coveted." :)

Mary Stella said...

I'd like to know what makes the 18-34 demo so coveted. My nephews are 21 and 19. They're in college and any money they manage to make in the summer goes for simple everyday expenses above and beyond what their parents pay for tuition, room and board, books, and a small allowance. They have precious little income to dispose of on products.

Anonymous said...


It's got the ring of truth.

Anonymous said...

To answer Mary Stella as to why the networks covet 18-34's... mainly because they spend a lot of their income and are not yet brand-loyal, so they are very susceptible to advertising. The reason the networks don't care about us after we hit our 50's is because, although we probably have more discretionary income to spend as we please, we are pretty much set in our ways as to brands. I think they are wrong, but I think they are all morons anyway, so this is just one more reason that the networks have killed their own business.

Anonymous said...

great post! two thumbs up especially for the reference to gene scott!

Anonymous said...

Very funny.

Hey, The Watcher gave you a shout out on her blog:

Joe public said...

meh. Leno's just a placeholder until NBC can sell the network to Google for a stockswap & rebrand it YouTubeNBC.