It was announced earlier this week that Tonight Show host Jay Leno, whose contract with NBC was about to be up and his slot filled by Late Night host Conan O'Brien, has struck a new deal with the peacock.
And, oh, it's a sweet one.
Leno is leaving his 11:30 timeslot - to move to 10:00, one of television's coveted primetime hours, that will be aired 5 nights a week. Conan will take his promised 11:30 Tonight Show slot and the Late Night slot will be filled by former SNL (not so) funny man Jimmy Fallon.
This gives Leno a broader audience on a fresher format, his new show being described as an "interview/variety-style" show. Jay himself had been wondering aloud and chatting with ABC executives about jumping ship and moving to the rival network where, almost assuredly, any late night program they put him on would steamroll the competition.
On the other hand, this is a smart move on NBC's part, too. Not only do they get to keep Leno from making a move that would no doubt be a huge blow to the struggling 4th place network, but they also get to trim 5 hours of fat from their schedule.
The 10 to 11 p.m. timeslot has generally been filled with hour dramas. But the days of these shows are growing dreary as 1) interest in this style of show is waining quickly and 2) the fact that most of these shows are getting more and more expensive to make - some costing about $1 million per episode. With that in mind, NBC gets to trim a good chunk o' change from their budget for a much less costly show that already has a good following. It looks to be a smart move in this economic mess.