Entertainment behind the scenes
Days after it was revealed that “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” posted its lowest-rated second-quarter since rival talk show “The Late Show with David Letterman” launched on CBS in 1993, NBC is looking to the Obama administration for help.
The network said on Tuesday that Vice President Joe Biden would stop by Leno’s show for the third time on Friday. Biden first visited the Burbank set in March 2007, as a U.S. senator. He returned in October 2008, as a vice presidential nominee.
Biden is scheduled to share the spotlight with Adrien Brody and musical guest Chris Isaak. Maybe, Biden and Leno can swap notes over their ratings problems. If politics isn’t your thing, Letterman has booked Kate Hudson, Indy 500 Winner Dario Franchitti and musical guest Sarah McLachlan.
While Leno still leads Letterman, his Q2 ratings fell to their lowest levels among total viewers, adults 18-49, and adults 25-54 since 1993, according to Nielsen data parsed by Deadline.com.
Conan O’Brien’s departure from NBC’s was ugly from the start, but now that it’s over, and Jay Leno is about to reclaim “The Tonight Show,” who has come out looking like the bad guy?
This is important because if Leno and O’Brien end up competing against each other in the same time slot (with O’Brien on Fox or another network), how the public views each of them could affect their ratings.
Leno himself has acknowledged he has been getting bad press as a result of the shakeup, with fellow talk show hosts David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel and Rosie O’Donnell accusing him of pushing out O’Brien.
But judging by a poll of 65,000 respondents at celebrity website PopEater, the controversy doesn’t seem to have hurt Leno that much.
Forty-four percent of respondents said they would watch Leno over O’Brien if the two were to go head-to-head in the 11:35 p.m. time slot, with only 33 percent opting for O’Brien.
Leno enjoys the advantage of having reigned as the top-rated late night talk show host from 1995 until he gave up “The Tonight Show” in May 2009. After he left, David Letterman’s “Late Show” on CBS climbed to the top of the heap.
Can Leno reclaim some of those viewers from Letterman when he returns to “The Tonight Show”? Letterman has launched a nasty campaign against Leno, mocking him every chance he gets on his show.
Meanwhile, Leno has tried to take the high road, calling O’Brien a “great guy” during his show Monday. But of late he has fired back at Letterman during his monologues.
With Letterman “going negative,” and Leno having given what amounted to a speech on Monday with his side of the story, this late night war has turned into something like a political campaign.
For his part, O’Brien has ravaged NBC during his monologues, and he has never returned Leno’s favor by also calling him a “great guy.”
Despite the hipster “I’m with Coco” campaign that has emerged, especially online, in support of O’Brien, his $32.5 million payout may hurt his image.
True, we are in the age of corporate executives getting away with million dollar bonuses after their own failures, and Conan has scored sympathy for securing money for his staff.
But wouldn’t we all like to walk away with say, $30 million, after seven months of poor ratings, weak reviews and (to use one of O’Brien’s jokes) not even a new haircut?
In a PopEater poll, only 28 percent of respondents said they feel sorry for O’Brien now that he has received his huge payout, and 38 percent said they never did.
With none of the talk show hosts seeming to have a monopoly on public sympathy, they may want all want to work harder on their campaign skills, because this new age for the talk show arena looks to be as cut-throat as ever.
(Additional writing by Christine Kearney)
It has become a battle of who can win the most sharp-tongued digs.
Conan O’Brien’s statement released two days ago that he will not be bullied by NBC back into a later timeslot has sparked a competition over which late night host can squeeze in as many quick fire NBC slaps in their opening monologue as possible.
On Wednesday night O’Brien was more combative in his comedic tone than the previous night, in a message directed to “the kids out there watching: You can do anything you want in life. Unless Jay Leno wants to do it too.”
The married “Late Show” host’s revelation that he had sex with female staff members from his show, and that he worked with authorities to have an alleged blackmail culprit arrested, places Letterman in the odd position of having apparently vanquished a social parasite, but at the same time having his dirty laundry uncovered in the process.
Certainly, the audience was on his side during Letterman’s 10-minute exposition of what he first described as a “little story” he wanted to tell them. The audience clapped and laughed at even the most awkward moments of his tale, such as when he admitted to, as he put it, the “creepy” detail from his life at the heart of the alleged extortion plot, namely that he had sex with women who work on his show.
In the same broadcast that saw him apologize to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for a joke about her daughter, late-night TV host David Letterman was back on controversial ground again during his show on Monday night, when comedian Jack Black inserted an “F-word” into his impromptu song.
It was the kind of “fleeting expletive” that recently became the subject of a high profile case before the U.S. Supreme Court, which decided that the federal government can fine broadcasters for airing a single expletive blurted out on a live show. Fortunately for Letterman, his guest’s brief foray into profanity aired after 10 p.m., which means that it does not risk a fine from the Federal Communications Commission.
Talk show host David Letterman says he was “guilty of poor taste” after causing a stir with some sexually suggestive jokes about one of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s teenage daughters, admitting he confused 18-year-old intended target Bristol Palin with her 14-year-old sister, Willow. The comedian’s 7-minute-plus discussion of the controversy during his Wednesday show can be seen on the video link below:
Todd Palin, the governor’s husband, has accused Letterman of making a joke about someone “raping” his younger daughter. Neither girl was directly named in the original joke, which also namechecked New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez.
But maybe Phoenix is angling to have the last laugh with his professed retirement from acting to take up a career in hip-hop music?