An Open Letter To NBC About The Jay Leno/Conan O’Brien Rumors

Gabe Delahaye | January 7, 2010 - 4:58 pm

Dear NBC,

There have been rumors circulating about the future of your late-night lineup for months now, and so every new piece of news must be taken with a novelty-sized grain of salt. Earlier today, a radio station in Los Angeles claimed that The Jay Leno Show was on the verge of cancellation, but this report was unsubstantiated, and also a radio station? What’s that? Now, a new rumor has appeared on garbage website (seriously, no offense, but you guys are kind of the worst, and you know it*) that Jay Leno’s show will be put on hiatus during the winter Olympics, and that when it returns, it will be in the 11:30 PM time slot.

OK, I just have one question: THE FUCK?

Now, to be fair to whomever deserves fairness, this may not actually be true. You, NBC, have made no official statement to confirm (or deny) TMZ’s story. But in spite of how gross TMZ is**, or perhaps BECAUSE of how gross TMZ is, I actually believe that they have a certain amount of journalistic integrity. Enough to avoid publishing something until they have backed their shit up. So, at least for the sake of argument, let’s assume that this story is true, and that you are planning on moving Jay Leno back to the 11:30 slot. I’d like to return to my original question:


Here’s the thing, NBC, I actually WANT YOU TO DO WELL! Which is weird. I mean, you are a faceless multi-billion dollar corporation, owned by GE, a leading member of the military industrial complex. And yet. It might simply be an effect of expert marketing and the appeal of bright colors, but I have fond feelings towards you. You’ve done so many great things. And you continue to do some great things. Your Thursday night line-up remains unbeatable, for example. I’m really enjoying your new show Community. Saturday Night Live! Hoda Kotb, in her way! You remain a powerful force in the world of entertainment.


Jay Leno is the worst. I know that millions of people disagree with me, and that you have the monthly bank statements to prove it, but I promise you that the world is on a different path. Jay Leno is a losing strategy. He is depressingly unimaginative, aggressively mediocre, and painfully unfunny. His success at The Tonight Show was a forgettable cultural blip. And even if putting him back in the 11:30 slot is a solution to your ratings concerns, that solution is temporary. You will be building your future on a bed of sand, or some other terrible metaphor for something that’s going to fall apart and provide no support in the coming years as younger audiences abandon you.

Not to mention the fact that the problems you would supposedly be working to solve are problems of your own design. You seem to feel that Conan is underperforming in his role, as if there is any other way to perform with THE JAY LENO SHOW AS THE LEAD-IN. Even Jay Leno fans agree that his new show is a piece of crap, but you’ve ensured that new potential audiences for Conan won’t have the patience to stick around for The Tonight Show. It’s like shooting someone in the leg and then complaining that they don’t keep up. It’s like shooting someone in the fucking FACE.

The fact is, NBC, you just look like you don’t have any idea what you’re doing, and for a network that has been struggling to even remain in the Top 4, much less dominate the airwaves, that is not a good look. If nothing else, this is the time for you to be TAKING CHANCES. You’re like Liam Neeson in Taken! You have nothing left to lose! And your daughter has been kidnapped by Albanian sex-traders because for some reason we are supposed to believe that kidnapping American tourists is cheaper than just drugging poor people in war-torn countries? OK, Taken had a few logic problems with its plot. BUT THE POINT IS: you could earn yourself a lot of bad blood by making a rash desperate move to go back to some false idyllic moment in the past when your schedule wasn’t that great anyways, or you could drop Jay Leno (who would have nothing but AN AIRPLANE HANGAR FULL OF CARS AND MILLIONS AND MILLIONS OF DOLLARS TO EASE THE PAIN), support your people, take a couple of risks, and start being a network that people were actually interested in again.

Or, you could just put crappy Jay Leno back at 11:30 because you ain’t care.***


*Let’s just pick a fight with fucking EVERYONE.
**Just to give you a sense of how gross TMZ is, besides their daily reporting on who pooped their pants on a yacht, or whatever, I got a publicity email from them shorty after the death of Michael Jackson in which they applauded themselves for having their highest traffic rates ever that week. Good job, TMZ! Michael Jackson’s death was awesome for you, and everyone is just so proud! Gross.
***It is going to be hilarious how much time I put into this Open Letter when the story turns out to be FAKE.