A day before a scheduled meeting with the press in Pasadena, Calif., and a week before a very important one with affiliates, here's where NBC found itself Friday:
The network is on the verge of canceling a much-touted failure, "The Jay Leno Show." Its star would be moved back to 11:35 - except the guy who is there now is threatening to walk, which could leave the network without a major star. And what about those five hours of prime-time real estate that must be filled after the Olympics end?
That about sum it up?
To call NBC's comedy of errors, miscues and miscalculations a mess does injustice to the word. Messes can be cleaned up. This disaster - much better word - might not be. Not easily, anyway.
Friday, NBC was expected to make an official announcement about Jay's return to 11:35, admitting that ratings for the 10 p.m. show have been a disappointment and that the network's affiliates have lost viewers to their 11 p.m. news broadcasts as a result.
The day grew long and the network retreated behind a wall of silence.
But speculation intensified. Conan O'Brien was resisting NBC's plan to push him back to midnight (Jay's show would air at 11:35, Conan's from 12 to 1), and to anyone who asked, Fox replied (privately): Sure, Conan O'Brien would be a great fit over here.
There is a contract that binds Conan to NBC for years to come, so this could be gamesmanship or good old-fashioned troublemaking.
In any case, the mess got messier.
How this proceeds from here could go as follows: Conan accepts the midnight offer - as the figurative late-night second banana to Jay. It's not the worst option in the world, and he could then wait until either Jay's 11:35 show stumbles - a distinct possibility given the damage NBC has wrought on Jay - or until Jay one day departs.
Or, Conan refuses the midnight offer. NBC is then forced to go to Plan B - Jay as host of "The Tonight Show," and Jimmy Fallon at 12:35 - and Conan is cast out into the cold, cruel world of Hollywood. Fox wouldn't be such a sweet deal because Fox stations may not be enthusiastic about dumping currently profitable 11 p.m. programs.
ABC? Unlikely. CBS? You know the story there.
So, we all await a final answer. The clock ticks. Meanwhile, the comedy of errors, miscues and miscalculations at NBC continues to defy all logic.