John Lamb, Published January 09 2010
Lamb: Late night shuffleWho says, “There are no second acts in American lives?”
Well, F. Scott Fitzgerald did, but the author didn’t live long enough to witness “must-see TV” or bear the heat from fickle American viewing audiences.
Rumors started flying fast and furious Thursday that Jay Leno and NBC would end the failed experiment of airing the comedian during prime time. The word is he’ll move back to late night, where he’d hosted “The Tonight Show” for 17 years until the move last May.
Pushing Leno back into the night would have a domino effect, bumping his “Tonight Show” replacement, Conan O’Brien, closer to his original slot at 11:30 p.m., (CST).
Some balk at the thought of NBC going back on their plans, but when hasn’t the American public been willing to give a celebrity a second chance, hoping, against the odds, that he or she will retain past glory?
It’s not that there are no second acts in American life, it’s just that we’re so reluctant to admit everything has an expiration date.
This current situation is like a big network do-over in hopes that Leno, O’Brien and all effected return to their former dominance, thus returning NBC to its peacock strutting ways.
Here’s how the network hopes things shake out:
E Leno tanked at 9 p.m. and provided a poor lead-in to local news in some markets. A return to the 10:30 slot wouldn’t really change Leno himself (he hasn’t been funny for more than a decade).
E Leno’s move would shift O’Brien back later into the night, where his off-beat humor thrived. The earlier slot seemed to suck the fun out of O’Brien, who was already dangerously anemic.
E O’Brien would bump the long-suffering Jimmy Fallon show, which would also set The Roots free to resume being one of the best bands in America, not just an in-house rim shot. Fallon could go back to his old gig hosting “Weekend Update” on “Saturday Night Live,” but then again, the best part of that was Tina Fey and good
luck swiping her from “30 Rock.” Or …
E … Fallon could take over Carson Daly’s “Last Call,” sending Daly back to MTV to revive “Total Request Live,” which would be slightly more intelligent than “Jersey Shore.” Better yet, Daly could join the “Jersey” cast, bringing in C-list celebrities to the beach house of similarly dim-witted muscle heads and bimbos.
E All of which could could finally put a smile on David Letterman’s face.
Hmmm … 2010 could be something to watch after all.
Readers can reach Forum columnist John Lamb at (701) 241-5533