NBCU CEO Steve Burke: Jay Leno or Tina Fey Contractually Free to Go to CBS Late Night

NBCU CEO Steve Burke: Jay Leno or Tina Fey Contractually Free to Go to CBS Late Night

Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS

…but he's confident Jimmy Fallon can face anyone

NBCU CEO Steve Burke says there's nothing contractually stopping NBC stars Jay Leno or Tina Fey from taking over David Letterman's time slot on CBS, but he's confident Jimmy Fallon can take on anyone.

“He is likely to be very very successful no matter who is in the same time period,” Burke said at a roundtable with reporters Monday. “If we could have had anybody in the world for 11:35… we would have picked Jimmy Fallon.”

Also read: NBCU CEO Steve Burke: It's Time for a 52-Week TV Season

Burke said he believes Fey is “very happy” making movies, as well as shows for NBC. He said NBC continues to be in talks with Leno about a series of specials. NBC entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt has previously said he hopes to keep Leno in the NBC fold.

“We're still talking to him about it,” Burke said.

See video: ‘The Simpsons’ Honors David Letterman With a Classic Couch Gag

Leno and Fey have both been mentioned as popular Letterman replacements, though there's a strong case to be made against each of them: Fey would have to compete with Fallon, her former “Weekend Update” partner on “Saturday Night Live.” Another potential issue: Fallon's “Tonight Show” is produced by her mentor, Lorne Michaels.

Leno, meanwhile, might be hesitant to take on Fallon, whom he heartily endorsed as he stepped down from “Tonight.”

Burke said Leno's transition of the “Tonight Show” to Fallon went as smoothly as it possibly could have.

Also read: Chelsea Handler, CBS in Talks for Late-Night Spot (Exclusive)

He said Leno told NBC he “wanted to do the best handoff we've ever done” and succeeded. Reminding reporters that past transitions haven't gone so well, he added, “This handoff couldn't have been  more graceful.”

  • bring back Leno

    Just because Leno graciously supported Fallon as he exited doesn't mean he can't do a competing show. If you believe that, then you should excoriate that loathsome Kimmel who took that a step further and suddenly started announcing how Letterman was his lifelong idol but then unnecessarily goes toe to toe with him at Letterman's most vulnerable time. And that's after Kimmel slammed Leno in regards to Letterman. What a worm. Unimaginative worm.

  • Me

    NBCU CEO Steve Burke: Jay Leno or Tina Fey Contractually Free to Go to CBS Late Night

    Jay Leno?????????????????????????????????? He's too old!

    • JJ

      Why? 60 isn't old. He's youthful and energetic and did great in the ratings to all groups. Calling him old is old.

  • chuck

    copy edit much?

  • Ward P

    Kimmel the “worm” never took back a job at another host's expense. Leno should have told NBC to take a hike since he was supposedly “forced” into leaving TTS the first time around and let a new talent take over. But money wins over common sense everytime. #teamcoco #teamfallon

    • JJ

      Give it up already. Conan was a failure in the ratings. Leno had every right to resume his job which Conan stole from him to begin with. You sure don't see Kimmel or Fallon turning down these jobs which have come at Letterman's expense (as well as the expense of good tv.) They're all a bunch of phonies, and Kimmel was just a whiny little turd upset that he couldn't beat Leno in the ratings.

    • Honey Badger Don't Care

      Wow, you are so brainwashed. It was Conan that forced Leno out of TTS job in the first place. He demanded that he get TTS or he would leave the network.

      And Leno only took back the job AFTER Conan quit.

      Plus Conan failed on TTS, he was getting beat by Letterman repeats.

      • Ward P

        Brainwashed?? Now THAT'S funny! I guess Honey Badger do care after all.

        The real culprits behind of all this mess is NBC. No talk show host could ever wield that power – except maybe Letterman. Everyone came out fairly unscathed obviously except Leno's nice guy image.

        • Honey Badger Don't Care

          No you are brainwashed. Conan was getting offers from other networks, but he turned them all down. He could have gone to another network and let Jay keep his show, but he demanded NBC to give him TTS.

          • Ward P

            I would ask for some documentation on that but I'm beginning not to care either. #teamcoco

          • Honey Badger Don't Care

            Documentation that he had offers from other networks?

  • dso1

    Tina Fey is a lightweight and she is nasty. She could never pull it off.

  • Honey Badger Don't Care

    “If we could have had anybody in the world for 11:35… we would have picked Jimmy Fallon.”

    Well duh, considering you fired #1 Jay Leno for Fallon.

  • ELM

    CBS would be stupid if they hired Leno. Most Letterman fans HATE the guy. How about instead of shuffling hosts around just find someone new.

    Seriously wish Leno would just fvcking stay retired already.