Many entertainment legends were honored at the 23rd Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame last night. Some of the participants included television chairs such as the infamous 21st Century Fox chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch, writer/producer David E. Kelley and actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus among many others. One of the more notable inductees of the evening was Jay Leno who was brought back into the public light at the TV Academy Hall of Fame. The question is, will this be the last time we see the entertainment legend for a while, considering his employment status after leaving The Tonight Show?
Leno left television’s highest rated talk show on Feb. 3 after a run of 22 years. As many know, it wasn’t exactly a consistent 22 years considering Leno also left (forcibly by NBC) in 2009 when Conan O’Brien took over the show. However, due to dwindling ratings and Leno complaining that he wasn’t ready to leave, he replaced O’Brien months later in a controversial move by the network and the talk show host.
This situation of the comedian leaving was not much different from the one in 2009. While it had been announced that Late Show host Jimmy Fallon would take over the legendary show on Feb. 17 for years, it wasn’t too surprising for the Leno to speak out against the television giant by saying that he was being pushed out yet again. Having said that, Leno seems to be better equipped for this departure considering Fallon’s ratings have kept the show afloat.
After Leno being brought back into the public light last night at the TV Academy Hall of Fame, it has people curious if he will be seen for a while. In other words, will Leno be sensible and stay retired from television? While most likely he will continue doing stand-up, it’s too soon to tell whether the comedian will become increasingly impatient as he stays off the airwaves.
Unlike the Conan scenario, it is unlikely that Leno will replace Fallon on The Tonight Show simply because Fallon’s ratings are through the roof. This is not to say that come a few months from now Leno will be requesting to come back to the late night staple, but the network would be insane to replace Fallon who is seeing higher ratings and is being called the new Johnny Carson.
If Leno is to return, it most likely will be in a different capacity. However, this is not going to be an easy task for the legend. In 2009 when Conan took over, Leno had a show in primetime Monday thru Friday, but it turned out to be a massive flop. Audiences were used to Leno on The Tonight Show and while it featured elements from his brand of the network staple, it tried to be different and in turn, failed.
Additionally, during his prime time spot, viewers are used to episodic dramas, which is a completely different audience and so people changed the channel to NBC’s competitors. Therefore, if Leno is to come back to television, he will not be brought back to the primetime slot due to his past failure at the time. In turn, if he is to come back, he most likely will be added to a cable network for a talk show. The problem now is that there is much more competition compared to when he first left. Between the 11-12:30 EST time period, there are four talk shows: David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon. Due to this, it’s going to be a risk for a network to bring Leno back in such a heated race for the ‘king of late night’ spot.
Leno has proven, in his lengthy career, to be a force to be reckoned with in the late hour. Despite the controversial nature of him leaving the last two times, he still is liked by many in the Hollywood community as well as those viewers at home. Considering his love for entertaining though, it seems only inevitable before Leno is brought back into the light of the public eye after his induction to the TV Academy Hall of Fame.
Opinion by Simon Mounsey