NBC’s reasoning for bringing back Jay Leno to late-night TV is baffling. I now understand why TV programming is rife with dumb-ass decisions: The people making them.
Here’s the basic story: Last year, Conan O’Brien replaced Jay Leno as host of the Tonight Show as planned. But then NBC gave Leno his own show at 10 p.m., preempting Conan by 95 minutes, five nights a week. NBC figured Leno could carry the timeslot, saving boatloads of money otherwise spent on producing dramatic programming. Whoops, Leno couldn’t deliver the ratings, and NBC affiliates complained they were losing local news viewers at 11 p.m. The solution isn’t rocket science: Can Leno.