OK, Jeff, it’s time for you to man-up, nut-up, suck-it-up, eat-it (all those things) and fix this late night issue before it becomes even more of a train wreck.
It’s very simple:
- Fire Conan O’Brien and give him all the compensation he is owed as part of a separation deal. (Don’t be a pussy, Jeff, let Conan go to Fox or ABC (or wherever) and pull in an average 2.3/5 share. Who cares?);
- Re-install Jay at 11:35 on The Tonight Show and be done with it. (Jay will quickly become the late night King again because my grandmother “really likes those headlines”);
- Find some old Law & Order’s laying around that you can air until you develop a couple of decent shows.
Yes, you may have to deal with a couple of months of bad press (“NBC Screwed Conan”… “Jay Not The Right Man”… “Jeff Zucker Sucks At His Job”… etc.) but it will pass and things will be back to where they were last May (with NBC in fourth place – but not late night). It will all be like a horrible dream and we’ll all wake up with Bobby Ewing in the shower.
But these steps need to be taken immediately. In order to save you some time, I’ve drafted your opening comments at the press conference that you should have this afternoon:
“Good afternoon. Thank you for coming. [Insert Nikki Finke joke here - something about her always being prompt and in the front row.] I’d like to take a few moments to discuss our line-up of new dramas at 10pm which will premiere after The Vancouver Olympics. Just kidding – we don’t even have a fucking pilot!
[cameras clicking - reporters jostling for position]
Last year, I made a horrible mistake. Ben Silverman actually made the mistake… but I digress.
For some asinine reason, we thought we could put Jay Leno on at 10pm and people would actually watch it. I thought our affiliates would be so happy to have a topical program hosted by one of America’s most beloved comedians as a lead in to their local news.
I was way fucking wrong on that assumption.
It could have been worse. I could have announced that we were merging with AOL or that I had re-hired Ben Silverman to run the network.
So… in order to make things right. I am officially reinstating Jay Leno to The Tonight Show and have paid off the remainder of Conan O’Brien’s contract so that he may pursue other opportunities at other networks. Conan was a great asset to NBC and a huge talent and we wish him nothing but the best – but we’ve decided to go back to Jay at 11:35.
Anyone who has an drama series ideas or any pilots in the can, please have them delivered to Angela Bromstad’s house immediately.
I will now take your questions.”
Do it, Jeff. It’s not too late to fix things.
Jill Kennedy – OnMedea