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An Out-of-the-Box Solution to NBC’s Leno Dilemma

Putting Jay Leno’s show on at 7 p.m. improves lead-ins for primetime, news

So, here’s the situation.

NBC is facing an affiliate revolt against “The Jay Leno Show” at 10 p.m. because the show’s low ratings are seriously hurting their 11 p.m. newscasts.

Leno has, thus far, refused the 8 p.m. slot previously offered by NBC, but he likely would accept a reinstatement as host of “The Tonight Show” at 11:35 p.m. The problem is current host Conan O’Brien (with ratings troubles of his own) will not go quietly back into the late night.

Though each host is having a difficult time in his current slot, both are proven ratings winners in other circumstances – and other networks (notably ABC and Fox) would jump at the chance to scoop up either one and cause additional headaches for the Peacock.

One option NBC reportedly is considering is moving Jay back to 11:35 p.m. and Conan’s “Tonight Show” to 12:05 a.m., a move that apparently is allowed under their respective contracts. Still, cutting Leno’s show in half and edging O’Brien later into the evening is likely to piss off both men.

Well, no one asked me, but I think I have a solution.

NBC’s owned-and-operated stations run “Access Hollywood” and “Extra” in the 7 p.m. hour slot across the country (as do many of the network’s affiliates). What if the affiliates agreed to air Leno as a technically syndicated program during that hour?

“Access Hollywood” and “Extra” could air earlier in the afternoon as an appropriate lead-in for newscasts.

Leno should go for this, since it would put him up against more appropriate competition (i.e., “Entertainment Tonight” and “Jeopardy!”), against which he would probably do very well. In turn, NBC would gain a strong lead-in for its primetime lineup.

The 10 p.m. timeslot could be filled by a combination of NBC backups and hit shows from USA and SyFy that would provide better lead-ins for affiliate newscasts and, by extension, “The Tonight Show.”

Just a thought.

 

John W. Kennedy is the founder of JWKMedia, a television/movie script development company, and a development manager/consultant at illumination productions, the production company run by former Fox News anchor Carol Iovanna. He is an author of children’s novels, and has produced and written programming for CNN, Fox News, PAX Television and the Catholic Channel on Sirius Satellite Radio. He currently blogs on the subject of "Faith & Media" for Examiner.com.