The role of "Tonight Show" host could be entering transition sooner than it's been rumored.
Jay Leno is reportedly in hot water with the Chairman of NBC Entertainment, Robert Greenblatt, after a few harmless jokes the late night host made at the network's expense. NBC recently fell to an unheard of fifth place in the broadcast network ratings standings, behind ABC, CBS, Fox, and Spanish-language station Univision.
On the February 28th episode of "The Tonight Show," one of Leno's monologue quips addressed the debacle: "For the first time in history, NBC is going to finish fifth in the ratings period. We are behind the Spanish-language network Univision - or as we call it here in Los Angeles: 'Cinco de Ratings,'" later adding "It's so bad, 'The Biggest Loser' isn't just a TV show anymore -- it's our new motto."
A New York Times report by Bill Carter, who has written two books about the late night wars, claims that several executives witnessed an angry e-mail exchange in which Greenblatt took offense to the gags. Leno responded in turn, pointing out that several late-night stars consistently poke fun "at their masters," including Johnny Carson and David Letterman.
This is perplexing, especially since one of the running gags on "30 Rock" was the atrocious state of NBC in terms of original programming and television ratings. To single out Leno for a harmless line that his audience in all likelihood promptly forgot about seems asinine. This is one instance where Leno shouldn't have to bare any blame or guilt.
Not only that, but Leno is one of the few mainstays that actually brings in decent ratings, dominating ABC and CBS' respective late night efforts in the 18-49 demographic and viewership numbers.
Whose side do you take in this argument? Should Leno show more respect to the network that has been his home for decades, or are the network's ratings troubles fair game?