You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Hey NBC, Time to Bring Back ‘The Jay Leno Show’?

Digesting the ratings for “Hannibal” – which considering the list of ingredients, including a presold title, heavy marketing and mostly positive reviews, have to be considered disappointing – one wonders if someone at NBC is thinking, “Hey, how about bringing back ‘The Jay Leno Show’?”

As you might recall, the Leno premise was not about winning in the ratings competition at 10 p.m., but altering the network financial model and, in essence, losing less expensively. And with a tepid audience for such a handsome-looking dramatic series, it’s worth noting NBC could have probably produced several weeks of Leno for roughly the same cost as that “Hannibal” pilot.

At the time, NBC’s real screw-up was in not fully and honestly explaining its strategy to the media and affiliates, with the latter rebelling as the lead-in to their late local news dragged them down. In hindsight, the network’s initial idea – putting Leno at 8 p.m., after NBC had floated devoting that hour strictly to reality shows and game shows in 2006 – might have softened the blow, although execs still would have needed to do a better job of tamping down expectations.

The main problem for NBC right now is the network has sunk to a place where it’s difficult to get enough traction to push upward. Granted, huge hits have come from cable networks with even smaller audience bases, but they’re not faced with churning out a full week’s worth of original programming in primetime, which makes the task more daunting.

NBC can spin the numbers all it wants, but unless “Hannibal” builds in the coming weeks, saying it topped tune-in for fast casualties like “Do No Harm” amounts to case of damnation with faint praise. Nor should anyone fall for the old “DVR ratings should really pull up our midterm grades, Dean Wormer” deflections.

“Critics say reality, game shows at 8 p.m. show NBC’s given up,” read a headline back when then-NBC chief Jeff Zucker introduced the plan, which didn’t formally materialize, in its amended form, until the network became desperate enough to try it so as not to lose Leno to a rival. (For giggles, here’s a link to all that happened by the one-year anniversary of Leno’s premiere, as well as my original review of his primetime foray.)

An upcoming documentary about Watergate reminded me of the Richard Nixon reelection slogan “Nixon Now — More Than Ever.” Substitute “Leno,” and the ad might still apply.

So … better late than never? And is that a neatly pressed white handkerchief you’re holding, Dr. Lecter, or a white flag of surrender?

More TV

  • Al Burton

    Al Burton, 'Jeffersons' and 'Diff’rent Strokes' Producer, Dies at 91

    Television producer and executive Al Burton, known for his work on “The Jeffersons” and “Diff’rent Strokes,” died Tuesday at his home in San Mateo, California. He was 91. Burton leaves behind a six-decade legacy of hit television shows that also included “One Day at a Time,” “Silver Spoons,” “Square Pegs” and “Facts of Life.” However, long [...]

  • Dwyane Wade Sets Multi-Year Development Deal

    Dwyane Wade Sets Multi-Year Development Deal at WarnerMedia

    Dwayne Wade is bouncing his way into WarnerMedia’s court. The retired NBA All Star has signed a multi-faceted, multi-year deal with the company, including a development deal via his 59th & Prairie Entertainment production banner. Part of the deal sees Wade sign on as a commentator at Turner Sports. He is set to make appearances [...]

  • Katie Couric Sheryl Sandberg

    Katie Couric Steamrolls Sheryl Sandberg in Roving Vanity Fair Summit Interview

    Sending a jolt through a luxurious and excessively polite afternoon in Beverly Hills, veteran journalist Katie Couric delivered a relentless series of hardball questions to Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg on Tuesday. Speaking in conversation at the sixth annual Vanity Fair New Establishment summit at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, Couric’s [...]

  • EVIL is a psychological mystery that

    CBS Renews 'Evil,' Orders Full Seasons of Four Other Freshman Shows

    CBS is doubling down on all its new shows. The network has renewed “Evil” for a second season, and handed out full-season orders to its other four freshman series, namely “All Rise,” “Carol’s Second Act,” “The Unicorn,” and “Bob Hearts Abishola.” “Evil” is set to conclude its 13-episode first season (creators Michelle and Robert King [...]

  • Jamie Lee Curtis

    Jamie Lee Curtis to Produce Military Drama With Put Pilot Order at Fox

    Jamie Lee Curtis is teaming up with April Fitzsimmons and Berlanti Productions for a drama project that has received a put pilot order at Fox. Titled “Chain of Command,” the one-hour project follows a young Air Force investigator with radical crime-solving methodology who returns to her hometown to join a military task force that doesn’t [...]

  • Michael MannLACMA: Art and Film Gala,

    TV News Roundup: Michael Mann to Direct and Executive Produce HBO Max's 'Tokyo Vice'

    In today’s TV news roundup, HBO Max names MIchael Mann as a director and executive producer of “Tokyo Vice” and Chip and Joanna Gaines announce the first original series coming to the couple’s Magnolia Network. DATES Netflix announced a six-episode docuseries centered on Nasty Cherry, the latest all-female group signed to Charli XCX’s label will [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content