CBS close to locking up David Letterman and Craig Ferguson through mid 2012
PASADENA, California (AP) — The failed Jay Leno experiment was great for business — at CBS.
CBS entertainment president Nina Tassler said Saturday her network took in more advertising revenue for its 10 p.m. dramas because NBC decided to put Leno's comedy show on at that hour five nights a week. NBC is considering moving Leno back to late-night TV because its affiliates are upset that the show's low prime-time ratings are hurting late local news programs.
"Ten o'clock is a great business for us," Tassler said. "The unfortunate thing is that our creative community was to some degree somewhat bruised by this ... A lot of people were put out of work. A lot of people really saw this as having a negative effect on our business."
Hollywood actors, writers and producers had been upset about Leno's show from the beginning, seeing it as taking away from prime-time hours usually filled by scripted shows.
Tassler said that NBC keeps seeming to come up with new prime-time strategies to deal with its ratings troubles when "there's no substitute for just developing and producing and launching great shows."
While NBC is still unsure what its late-night lineup will be, Tassler said CBS is close to signing deals that will keep David Letterman and Craig Ferguson in place through mid-2012.
NBC sends its executives to meet with journalists in Pasadena on Sunday, but it's still not clear if they'll have anything to announce. Under a scenario that would bring Leno back to late-night, the Conan O'Brien-hosted "Tonight" show would move back a half hour, and it's not known whether he'll accept that.
He might find a warm welcome waiting for him at Fox.
Fox respects O'Brien's talent and sees him as a good fit, a person at the network said Friday. The person, who lacked authority to comment publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, said Fox was watching to see how the situation played out but that O'Brien remained under contract with NBC.
Representatives for O'Brien did not immediately respond to requests for comment about his plans.
ABC, for its part, indicated a lack of interest if O'Brien becomes a free agent.
"With all due respect to Conan, we like the late night hand that we are currently playing," the network, home of "Nightline" in the late-night slot, said in a statement Friday.
Many NBC affiliates have complained that viewership for their 11 p.m. newscasts have plummeted because Leno's 10 p.m. show is such a weak lead-in.
"I think Jay Leno's a great performer. He's just at the wrong place at the wrong time. There's nothing wrong with making mistakes. There is something wrong with not correcting them," said Bob Prather, president and chief operating officer at Atlanta-based Gray Television Inc., whose station group includes 10 NBC affiliates.
Lisa Howfield, general manager of NBC affiliate KVBC in Las Vegas, said Friday: "I'm excited to have Jay land back in late night. It sounds like a great lineup."
O'Brien, who left jokes about the situation to Leno on Thursday, didn't hold back Friday on "Tonight."
"We've got a great show for you tonight. I have no idea what time it will air — but it's going to be a great show," O'Brien said in his monologue.
O'Brien added later that he wanted to address rumors swirling about his show and Leno's, including one that "NBC is going to throw me and Jay in a pit with sharpened sticks. The one who crawls out gets to leave NBC."
Leno also focused on the proposal Friday.
"To be fair, NBC is working on a solution, they say, in which all parties" will be treated unfairly, he quipped in the monologue. "That certain NBC touch."
NBC's contract with O'Brien reportedly allows the network to move "Tonight" to 12:05 a.m. EST but no later, at the risk of substantial financial penalties. With a two-year contract said to be valued at about $28 million per year, O'Brien would have to think hard about walking away.
Leno's show has averaged 5.8 million nightly viewers since its fall debut, about the same number who watched his final "Tonight" season. By comparison, the season's top-rated 10 p.m. network drama, CBS' "The Mentalist," has an average audience of 17.5 million.
O'Brien is averaging 2.5 million nightly viewers, compared with 4.2 for Letterman's "Late Show," according to Nielsen figures. And the younger audience that O'Brien was expected to woo has been largely unimpressed, with O'Brien and Letterman's shows tying among advertiser-favored viewers ages 18 to 49.
Any change would probably not take effect until March, after the Winter Olympics on NBC.
AP Television Writers Lynn Elber in Los Angeles and Frazier Moore in New York contributed to this report.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.
2015 | Comedy | NRSummary: Comedian Chris Tucker performs live.Director: Phil Joanou
Cast: Chris Tucker
1995 | Adventure | GSummary: History comes gloriously to life in Disney's epic animated tale about love and adventure in the New World. Pocahontas is a Native American woman whose father has arranged for her to marry her village's best warrior. But a vision tells her change is coming, and soon she comes face to face with it ...Director: Mike Gabriel, Eric Goldberg
Cast: Irene Bedard, Mel Gibson, David Ogden Stiers, John Kassir
2012 | Comedy | PG-13Summary: A burgeoning stand-up comedian struggles with the stress of a stalled career, a stale relationship, and the wild spurts of severe sleepwalking he is desperate to ignore.Director: Mike Birbiglia, Seth Barrish
Cast: Mike Birbiglia, Lauren Ambrose, Lucy DeVito, Aya Cash
2013 | Drama | NRSummary: Marion Cotillard is impeccable as a Polish immigrant coerced into working for a charismatic villain even as she is pulled towards life with a mysterious magician.Director: James Gray
Cast: Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Renner
1969 | Comedy | NRSummary: The mischievous mascot of the Pink Panther films gets his own show featuring strange and delightful animated antics.Director: n/a
Cast: Paul Frees, Rich Little, Dave Barry
2005 | Adventure | PGSummary: A family in financial crisis is forced to sell Lassie, their beloved dog. Hundreds of miles away from her true family, Lassie escapes and sets out on a journey home.Director: Charles Sturridge
Cast: Peter O'Toole, Samantha Morton, John Lynch, Peter Dinklage
1967 | Comedy | NRSummary: Dr Frankenstein decides to retire from monster-making, and he calls together a monster party to choose his replacement, with Dracula, The Werewolf, The Creature, Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde on the guest list.Director: Jules Bass
Cast: Boris Karloff, Allen Swift, Gale Garnett
1952 | Western | PGSummary: Compact and incredibly suspenseful western about a retiring marshall who finds himself standing alone to defend his town against a gang riding in on the noon train.Director: Fred Zinneman
Cast: Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly, Thomas Mitchell
1948 | Comedy | NRSummary: Ad exec Cary Grant flees to the country from Manhattan, and makes a series of impulsive and bull-headed choices as he tries to create his own personal dream home.Director: H.C. Potter
Cast: Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, Melvyn Douglas
Let Streaming Genie help you.