OK. So Conan is gone. Jay is back at 11:35. What’s next? Damage control.
So, here’s what needs to be done:
Step 1: Jeff Zucker must be fired. Regardless of what really happened behind the scenes, his name is synonymous with the total failure of NBC and it is perceived by the public that he is the main reason the Conan/Jay issue became such a mess. The fact that he actually believed the best way to handle the situation was to attack Conan O’Brien illustrates his complete inability to manage a crisis.
This is not someone that Comcast needs at the top of the new company to be formed and it’s, frankly, not someone that anyone needs (unless he wants to go join his buddy Ben Silverman in his soon-to-be failed company – Electus). That would be fine with me.
Step 2: Provide tons of food aid to Haitian earthquake victims (with the optional The Tonight Show With Jay Leno branding on each bag). It’s hard for late night comedians to make fun of someone who is providing real help to people in desperate need.
Step 3: Develop really good / meaningful shows and stick with them even if the ratings aren’t there. While this may result in lower profits in the short-term, NBC needs to convince viewers that they are capable of producing quality entertainment and don’t just make crappy shows about who can lose the most weight.
That’s it. Jay will go back on at 11:35 and will most likely become #1 again in a month or so. Major stars will not boycott Jay because the late night shows are vital to the promotion of their upcoming films and television series.
Sure, right now everyone is on Conan’s side but once Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts have films to promote, they’ll be right there back on Jay’s couch. Without a doubt.
If these steps are taken, NBC should be in a pretty good position when they announce their fall 2010 shows at the May upfronts.
However, if Step 1 is ignored – all bets are off.
Jill Kennedy – OnMedea