Jay Leno and NBC won the battle, but may have lost The Late-Night War.
Between Leno’s slowly dropping fan base and NBC’s rapidly falling ratings, this has proven to be a total public relations fiasco for the network.
On June 1, 2009, Conan O’Brien succeeded Jay Leno as host of The Tonight Show while Leno transitioned to a prime-time feature, The Jay Leno Show. However, NBC’s ‘experiment’ was deemed a failure, and with negative reviews saying the show was ‘exactly what he did [on the Tonight Show] before’, The Jay Leno Show was rescheduled within seven months.
NBC’s planned remedy to this situation, involving the Leno Show moving to the 11:00 time slot and pushing The Tonight Show to midnight, and later simply reinstating Leno to his original position, did not go over well with O’Brien or his contract.
According to the agreement updated when O’Brien took the Tonight Show, NBC was obligated to keep him on as host for at least three years. With opposition mounting against the network, a $45 million deal was closed with O’Brien, as a form of compensation for his leave.
However, many fans continue to side with O’Brien and denounce NBC, even inside Penn Manor High School:
“Conan. Easily Conan. He’s…I mean, he was sold out,” said assistant principal Jason D’Amico.
“I’m going with Conan. I don’t know. I used to be a Leno fan, but…” said Richard Brenton, one of the high school’s Social Studies teachers.
But, it’s not as if Leno doesn’t have his own support:
“Leno, definitely. He’s funnier. Conan just seems like he’s trying too hard,” according to Penn Manor Custodian John Wealand.
Somewhat surprisingly, in an informal poll, throughout the school, and even among students, Leno’s fans prevail, amounting to almost four times Conan’s followers.
By Kennedy Phillips