Jay Leno Rips NBC in Monologue
By Mike Hess Posted Jan 8th 2010 07:49AM
The verbal assault comes after rumors flew claiming Leno would be returning to 11:30 in late February. There was no word where that would leave Conan O'Brien, who took over Leno's 'Tonight Show' chair last year.
During his monologue, Leno put in several shots at NBC. When addressing the cancellation rumor, he quipped that he has nothing to worry about because "NBC only cancels you when you're in first place, so we're fine."
Since taking the 10 p.m. slot, Leno's ratings have been in steady decline and are a far drop from his 'Tonight' pull. Making matters even worse for NBC, local affiliates across the country complained because his 10 p.m. lead-in into their 11 p.m. newscasts was hurting their ratings.
Perhaps the harshest shot that Leno took at NBC was veiled in a news story that he turned to his advantage.
"The Justice Department announced they'll conduct an anti-trust review of Comcast's proposal deal ... you know the merge with NBC. Anti-trust, which is the relationship I have with NBC," he said.
Closing out the monologue, Leno got in one last pot shot, asking band leader Kevin Eubanks: " Hey Kev, what does NBC stand for? Never Believe your Contract!"
PopEater's Rob Shuter reported on December 17 that NBC was courting Jerry Seinfeld to replace O'Brien in the hopes of boosting that slot's sagging ratings. Unfortunately, NBC was unable to ink the deal according to Shuter, which then prompted the possible Leno switch.
In a statement obtained by EW.com, NBC is shooting down the shift rumors, saying (without denying any upcoming changes): "Jay Leno is one of the most compelling entertainers in the world today. As we have said all along, Jay's show has performed exactly as we anticipated on the network. It has, however, presented some issues for our affiliates. Both Jay and the show are committed to working closely with them to find ways to improve performance."
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