Why is NBC messing with the highest-rated talk show host on TV, namely Jay Leno, host of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno?" Ahh, good question, and if you're just tuning into this blog, I'm posting a series of theories that may explain what's going on here. My second theory: David Letterman.
Here's how this theory goes: David Letterman may — one must always use the word "may” around Dave, for he who uses the word "will” is a fool — retire in 2014 when his current run ends. Dave turns 66 in just about three weeks, and in actuarial terms that is indeed "not young," so there's some logic to this.
And if Dave goes .?.?. then whom? Logic would indicate Craig Ferguson of "Late Late Show." But never ascribe logic to network executives. They are almost certainly thinking "who else” and their eyes are probably looking toward Jimmy Fallon. Fallon would be a nice easy fit at "Late Show:" He's urban but not so urban that he wouldn't appeal to breadbasket viewers in the Midwest; that's Dave's métier too, by the way — a broad appeal across city and country .?.?.
He's also a big star in his own right — only big stars need apply for the role of replacing David Letterman.
And finally, he's New York. Why give up the Ed Sullivan Theater? It's one of the greatest show business venues on the planet — thanks to Dave. This is now an institution, a New York institution, and you want a New Yorker — or at least a New Yorker from Saugerties — to fill it.
Back to my caveat emptor. I have no basis of real fact in this: For all I know, Ferguson has secured a deal to take over for Dave, and that is that. (Fergie's very good too.) But Fergie is almost certainly expected to stay in LA — they just expanded his studio — which would then mean "Late Late Show” would shift to New York.
And you just know someone at CBS is saying — "well, why not hire Jimmy for that show and if Craigers doesn't work out at 11:35, then we can move Jimmy there?! " It's sort of a variation on what NBC did with Jay at 10 p.m. (if Co flops, move Jay back .?.?.)
NBC may be thinking that this is what CBS is thinking, and therefore, they decided to act pre-emptively.
Of course this is all predicated on the possibility that NBC is actually thinking.
Ba dum! Rimshot! Sorry. Couldn't resist.
I'd be remiss to add one final part of this theory — that it's not a valid theory at all, because Dave may not retire at all. Remember, he may see this as an opportunity to stick around another year just to leave on top (his numbers surged when Conan went to "Tonight.") But of course the day will come when Dave steps aside .?.?.
So that's theory # 2. Check back shortly for theory # 3. And it's a doozy .?.?.