The Jay Leno Show cancellation announcement by Jeff Gaspin – Chairman NBC Entertainment – was handled in just about the worst way possible. It should have so simple: Announce the news; admit it was mistake and talk about the exciting changes to come. That’s it.
Instead, Jeff Gaspin’s announcement at the TCA Winter Press Tour was a stunning display on how not to do something. He was defensive (even blaming other parts of the company) and basically said he didn’t really know what they were going to do next.
Let’s break down the key quotes:
Gaspin: “I would have liked nothing more than to give this (The Jay Leno Show) a 52-week try.” (You’re the freakin’ Chairman of NBC Entertainment – don’t you have the power to give it a try for as long you’d like no matter who is against it? Especially if you would have ‘liked nothing more’?
Gaspin: “This was not an issue for the network…” (No, of course not, NBC kicks ass! Fourth place ass. But it still kicks ass!)
Gaspin: “… it was an issue for our affiliates.” (That’s it, blame another part of your company. One great leadership trait is knowing whom should be blamed in a time of crisis.)
Gaspin: “We were making money at 10 p.m. I think, over time, (‘Leno’s’ ratings) might have started to grow. For the network, it was not yet a wrong decision.” (You really went out on a limb on that one. ‘It was not yet a wrong decision?’ What the fuck is that? Come on, Jeff, just say ‘Yes, it was the wrong decision. We failed but we’re going to fix it.’ The culture at NBC has got to change. When the Chairman of the company is afraid of accountability, what hope is there for the rest of the executive team?)
So, Jeff, was “Leno” a mistake?
Gaspin: “I don’t think it’s wrong to take chances. We might have been too early on this one.” (Ah, I see… you’re just ahead of your time. The world is not ready for the bold programming choices coming from NBC. The world is not ready for a powder puff monologue followed by lame celebrity interviews at 10pm. Fight on, lone ranger, one day the world will catch up to your vision.)
You want to know how to avoid a “PR Issue”, Jeff – nut-up and take the blame for a mistake. Obviously, your boss Jeff Zucker is too much of a wimp to acknowledge failure. As I said in October, it’s a stupid TV show that didn’t work – it’s not that big of a deal. It was a programming choice that didn’t work. Simple as that.
Now, get out there and make the best “Law & Order” spin-off that you can.
Godspeed, Jeff Gaspin.
Jill Kennedy – OnMedea