Jay Leno will stay at NBC and move to 10pm weeknight slot after Conan O'Brien takes over his Tonight Show in June, Broadcasting & Cable and Nikki Finke are reporting. Everyone thought Leno was probably going to end up at ABC after he said in a July interview "I am definitely done next year - with NBC." But NBC Universal chief Jeff Zucker persuaded him to stay! Probably with wheelbarrows full of money. The big loser in all this? That would probably be embattled NBC Entertainment co-chairman Ben Silverman, who just survived a major corporate bloodletting but suddenly finds himself with five fewer hours a week to program. And to think he was having so much fun skiing in Utah this weekend!
He's been trying to shift blame for NBC's many recent stumbles over to fellow executive Katherine Pope. But he neglects to mention that NBC also canned Teri Weinberg, who Silverman deputized as his number two even though she had "no experience at a network or managing a large staff" and whose boyfriend also got a nice producing deal. This handpicked Silverman team was, predictably, a "train wreck."
Silverman's contract is up in June, which means he would normally be starting renegotiations any time now. It's hard to imagine him doing as well as Leno, who may have been bumped, and who risks losing his audience, but at least is still profitably employed.
Bigger picture: NBC now has three late-night shows each weeknight (Jimmy Fallon is taking over O'Brien's Late Night), a development critics are sure to hail as another nail in the coffin of traditional, scripted primetime network television, already under siege by reality shows and expensive dramas on HBO, Showtime, AMC, etc. But it could just be that Ben Silverman sucks. Or both! We vote for both!