Leno retired from the "Tonight Show" and bequeathed it to Conan O'Brien years ahead of time in order to avoid the dramafest that ensued when Johnny Carson retired without naming a successor.
That fiasco resulted in the Leno/Letterman sausage fest that sent Letterman to CBS (The Hospice Network).
But Leno didn't want to leave TV and NBC didn't want to stop milking Leno's financial tit.
So they put a lame-ass, truncated version of what they considered to be the best parts of Leno's Tonight show in the last Prime Time slot EVERY FUCKING NIGHT. In a time slot where most viewers were used to seeing smartly scripted, well acted, Emmy winning (but EXPENSIVE TO THE NETWORK) dramas.
It was a COLOSSAL FAIL! Local affiliates rose up like rabid teabaggers because Leno's crappy show drove viewers away from their nightly news broadcasts.
Studies have shown that if you go to bed with a network, you tend to wake up with a network. With most families being dual income families, the daytime demographic is negligible.
The local affiliates have a few hours in the evening and even fewer hours in the morning to make money off of you. Probably 7 out or 24, tops. For NBC, Leno was killing 5 of those hours and everyone was PISSED!
So NBC's proposed solution? A Mulligan! A redo! Put Leno back where he was and make everybody, O'Brien, Fallon, the NBC viewers all pay for Leno's failure to attract viewers.
WRONG, NBC! WRONG!
I'm not a Leno hater, but he has clearly run his course. He's done. He's not a charity case. He has bragged about the fact that he has not spent a dime of his Tonight Show money ($15 million a year for how many years?). He lived off his stand-up routine money! So, he's gonna be OK. He won't be homeless anytime soon.
The ratings are quite emphatic about the fact that he no longer has anything to offer NBC.
So let him go! Fire him if you have to. Let him do 20 years of "unscripted" walk-ons like you did with Bob Hope and his life-time contract. Whatever it takes. But put the fucker out to pasture and let O'Brien and Fallon chart the future.
Quit being a dick, NBC.
And if NBC won't quit being a dick, then Jay Leno needs to quit being a dick and do the right thing.
You have a lot of fucking cars to work on. Get busy.
P.S. I apologize for the lack of links. But I have one more post I want to squeeze in tonight and don't have time for my customary due diligence. So go google my shit.
32 minutes ago