“The Jay Leno Show” premiere kills in the ratings

Leno

Can a late night talk show work at 10 PM? That was the question NBC executives were asking themselves when they picked up “The Jay Leno Show,” the veteran comedian’s newest venture into television. “The Jay Leno Show” would esentially test people’s willingness to choose a network comedy during a time slot historically reserved for dramas. Though it’s too early to celebrate a resounding success, the show’s premiere certainly exceeded expectations.

According to Nielsen preliminary estimates, “Jay Leno,” whose premiere night guest was Jerry Seinfeld, averaged a 5.1 rating/13 share in adults 18-49 and 17.7 million viewers overall during the 10 o’clock hour. This is a larger audience than any episode of an NBC series from last season, and the best overall for NBC in the timeslot since the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.

A big premiere rating was expected, but it will probably take a few weeks to see where the show’s number settles, or what kind of a local news lead-in it provides for the network’s affiliates. The 5.1 rating is a bit above industry expectations for the premiere and is about three times what NBC has said it could do on an annual basis to generate a profit.

This is all very impressive, but one has to consider the large audience tuning in to see what would happen with Kanye West. Still, drawing 17.7 million viewers for any TV premiere should be huge news, so it’s curious to note how quiet NBC is being about it. Remember, they did claim Conan was the new “King of Late Night” when they handed him “The Tonight Show.” If Leno keeps these numbers up, they’ll have to eat their words. Conan will be fine, but it’s a bittersweet predicament.

  

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“The Jay Leno Show” – The Post-Premiere Wrap-Up

At last, it has arrived.

Just last week, in our Fall TV Preview, I wrote of the impending premiere of “The Jay Leno Show,” “This is the most controversial maneuver in the past several decades of television history, a Hail Mary by the people at the Peacock,” so as a TV critic, there was no way I was going to miss Jay’s premiere episode. Having now seen it, I am absolutely unsurprised to report to you that, aside from a change in set, there’s virtually no different between the feel of his work on “The Tonight Show” and his work on “The Jay Leno Show.”

Really, though, this can’t be a surprise to anyone.

Although I always picked Letterman over Leno in the late night wars, I never disliked Leno. He was always hysterical whenever he turned up on “Late Night with David Letterman,” so I was thrilled for the guy when he made the transition to Johnny Carson’s regular guest host and turned that into a gig as Carson’s full-time replacement. But you can like a guy without actually watching him, and although I can see the appeal that Leno offers to mainstream audiences, I just prefer my comedy to be a little bit more off-center.

Rest assured, there was very little outside-of-the-box comedy on display in the first episode of “The Jay Leno Show.”

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NBC: What’s New for Fall 2009

The Jay Leno Show (Mon., Sept. 14 @ 10:00 PM, NBC)

The competition:
Monday: “Castle” (ABC), “CSI: Miami” (CBS)
Tuesday: “The Forgotten” (ABC), “The Good Wife” (CBS)
Wednesday: “Eastwick” (ABC), “CSI: New York” (CBS)
Thursday: “Private Practice” (ABC), “The Mentalist” (CBS)
Friday: “20/20” (ABC), “Numb3rs” (CBS)

Starring: Jay Leno
Producers: Debbie Vickers, Larry Goitia, Jay Leno, Jack Coen, Stephanie Ross (“The Tonight Show with Jay Leno”)
Network’s Description: Marking a new era in television, Jay Leno, recently named America’s Favorite TV Personality by the 2009 Harris Poll, moves from late night to primetime on September 14 when his series becomes the first-ever entertainment program to be stripped across primetime on broadcast network television. The series promises more comedy in the 10 o’clock hour and will showcase many of the features that have made Leno America’s late-night leader for more than a dozen years.
The Buzz: About as mixed as buzz can be. This is the most controversial maneuver in the past several decades of television history, a Hail Mary by the people at the Peacock. It’s highly possible that the people who’ve abandoned “The Tonight Show” since the tall, skinny Irish kid took over have just decided to go to bed early for a change and are fully prepared to start watching their old buddy, Jay, in his new locale. Then again, maybe they won’t. It’s a crazy crap shoot, this series, and all that us critics can do is sit back and see what the viewers decide to do.
Pilot Highlight: None, obviously, due to the live nature of the show.
Bottom Line: If you like Jay Leno, you’ll like the show. If you don’t, you won’t. It’s really as simple as that. But will you watch the show? Leno has the right attitude by acknowledging outright that he doesn’t expect to beat original programming, only anticipating that they’ll probably start to take home the ratings gold once the reruns start. I like Leno as much as the next guy, but I like scripted dramatic programming better. For that alone, I’m not exactly rooting for him to succeed. But with that said, I’m mostly just curious to see what’s going to happen.

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NBC: The Fall Schedule

It’s 2-for-1 day with the upfronts, with NBC following ABC in announcing their fall schedule. The National Broadcasting Company was already in a crap ratings position even before they decided to try the radical maneuver of giving Jay Leno the 10 PM timeslot, so they really can’t lose very much by trying such an experiment. It still sucks for fans of scripted television, though. Fortunately, the people at the Peacock have still found it in their heart to offer up a few new series, and they’re also trying the shared-timeslot concept in earnest, as you’ll see below.

Monday

8:00 PM – Heroes

9:00 PM – Trauma

From executive producer Peter Berg comes the first high-octane medical drama series to live exclusively in the field where the real action is. Like an adrenaline shot to the heart, the show is an intense, action-packed look at one of the most dangerous medical professions in the world: first responder paramedics. When emergencies occur, the trauma team from San Francisco General is first on the scene, traveling by land, by sea or by air to reach their victims in time. From the heights of the city’s Transamerica Pyramid to the depths of the San Francisco Bay, these heroes must face the most extreme conditions to save lives — and give meaning to their own existence in the process. Starring are Derek Luke, Cliff Curtis, Anastasia Griffith, Aimee Garcia, Kevin Rankin, and Jamey Sheridan.

10:00 PM – The Jay Leno Show

Tuesday

8:00 PM – The Biggest Loser
10:00 PM – The Jay Leno Show

Wednesday

8:00 PM – Parenthood

From the executive producers of the box-office hit “Parenthood,” Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, and writer/executive producer Jason Katims, this contemporary re-imagining of the blockbuster film depicts the colorful and imperfect Braverman family – four grown siblings sharing the headaches, heartaches, and joy of being parents. The star-studded cast includes Peter Krause, Maura Tierney, Craig T. Nelson, Dax Shepard, Bonnie Bedelia, Monica Potter, Erika Christensen and Mae Whitman. When Sarah Braverman (Tierney), a financially strapped single mother, returns home to her parents and siblings in Berkeley, Calif., after packing up her Fresno apartment and uprooting her two inconvenienced kids, Amber (Whitman) and Drew (Miles Heizer), she is greeted by her opinionated father, Zeek (Nelson), and strong mother, Camille (Bedelia), who are privately dealing with their own marital issues. As Sarah is reunited with her siblings — sister, Julia (Christensen), and brothers Crosby (Shepard) and Adam (Krause) — all struggling with issues of their own, it’s clear that the Braverman reunion is just what they need to face the everyday challenges of modern family life.

9:00 PM – Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

10:00 PM – The Jay Leno Show

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