NBC Moves Jay Leno Out of Primetime

ON

NBC has confirmed that “The Jay Leno Show” will no longer air at 10pm and that Jay Leno may move into the 11:35pm Eastern slot, to be followed by Conan O’Brien’s “Tonight Show” at 12:05am and Jimmy Fallon at 1:05am.

NBC Universal TV chairman Jeff Gaspin confirmed that the network is going back to scripted programming at 10pm and talk shows in late night.

“I can confirm that starting Feb. 12, Jay Leno will no longer air at 10 p.m.,” Gaspin said. “My goal right now is to keep Jay [Leno], Conan [O’Brien] and Jimmy [Fallon] as part of our late-night lineup. As much as I’d like to tell you we have a done deal, we know that’s not true.”

If agreed upon, Leno would do a half-hour show before O’Brien’s hour-long “Tonight Show” and Fallon’s one-hour “Late Night.” Leno is expected to agree to the change, but it is unclear if O’Brien will want to stay with the network. Gaspin says he expects a new schedule to be in place before the Olympics begin next month.

Gaspin added that NBC abandoned its 52-week strategy with Leno due to affiliate concerns. “This was not an issue for the network; it was an issue for our affiliates. We were making money at 10 p.m. I think over time [Leno show ratings] might have started to grow. For the network, it was not yet a wrong decision.

“Affiliates started calling, saying local news was being impacted more than expected. In some cases, they had the No. 1 news show and now they were No. 3.”

The hosts have the weekend to think about the proposed changes.