I just read an article from Ad Age comparing Jay Leno to a bag of stale Funyuns. I'm not kidding. Here's the direct quote:
"NBC used to offer substantive entrees at 10 ("ER," "Law & Order"), and figured that viewers could be forced to switch to comfort food. But Leno at 11:35 wasn't ever really even meatloaf; he was more like that stale bag of Funyuns in the back of the cupboard you were willing to settle for because mindless late-night snacking is ... mindless."
Now, I'm not a huge fan of Funyuns. I'm more of an Utz Cheddar and Sour Cream girl. Nevertheless, I feel bad for Jay.
I used to watch him all the time, back when my VCR still worked. I'd tape him every night between 11:37PM and 12 midnight (I generally don't watch celebrity interviews). What I liked about Jay was his monologue--just the right amount of corny, and never, ever mean-spirited--and his interactions with Kevin Eubanks. I also loved his Celebrity Jeopardy segments. The hilarious Gilbert Gottfried somehow made his way into almost every one, with his requisite "Son of a b*tch!"
When my VCR broke from overuse, I couldn't watch Jay anymore. Then NBC announced Jay was coming to primetime. "Yay," I thought. "I can watch Jay on the off night that there is nothing to watch at 10PM."
That never happened.
What I ended up doing at 10PM on Tuesdays-Fridays (Mondays being rescued by CSI: Miami) was either A) catch up on other shows or B) read.
Good for the publishing industry, but bad for NBC. Thanks to giving Jay 33% of its primetime lineup on weeknights, the Peacock Network's 10PM ratings are crap. NBC finishes #3 (last place) in the hour almost every night of the week. The only show doing worse than Jay is ABC's Eastwick. (I'm still waiting for ABC to wake up and smell that stinker.)
NBC affiliates all around the country are also crying foul, because low ratings at 10PM mean lower ratings for their 11PM news.
It's time, NBC. Time to admit Jay Leno five nights a week at 10PM was a bad idea. Time to admit not renewing his contract for The Tonight Show was a bad idea. Look, there will be major egg on your face for shoving those "Comedy at 10. It's about time" ads down our throats all summer. You had high hopes for Jay, and it didn't work out. Okay, it BOMBED. But as any addict knows, the first step to solving a problem is admitting you have a problem.
I know you have a contract with Jay for at least a year. But I don't have a solution for you to get out of this mess. It's just a terrible, terrible situation for all parties involved.
Eck. No more entries on the state of NBC for a while. Writing about the network is making me depressed.