It’s official. Conan O’Brien is leaving NBC and Jay Leno will be reclaiming The Tonight Show in March. For the last two weeks in February, the network will fill the vacated 10 P.M. time slot with the Winter Olympics. But after that, it’s unclear what show will take over although rumor has it that it may be one of the following candidates:
The Conan O’Brien Show
Looking to mitigate the $32 million severance payment to Conan O’Brien, the executive geniuses at NBC have come up with an almost unique solution. They’re going to offer the carrot-topped comedian a one-hour, prime time talk show with the promise that he’ll eventually host The Tonight Show when Jay Leno leaves or hell freezes over, whichever comes first. Asked to comment on how this show will differ from the failed Jay Leno Show, NBC President Jeff Zucker said: "It won’t but at least we’ll get some of that $32 million back."
Long a staple of late night television, it looks like infomercials may finally crack the prime time lineup. Whether it’s a pitch for food dehydrators, juicers or cooking grills, one-hour product commercials present a tempting revenue stream for cash-strapped NBC. Production costs for the network are zero and program revenues could help offset severance payments that will likely arise from future screw-ups by network executives. "I see it as a win-win situation," said Jeff Zucker. "Hey, who knows, we may even be able to sell off the set from The Jay Leno Show and unused characters from Conan’s old show like Triumph the Insult Comic Dog and the Masturbating Bear.
Looking to ride the reality TV trend into the ground, NBC is reportedly considering a new offering called Executive Survivor. Current NBC execs and a group of executive wannabes compete in teams to see who will survive to run American’s fourth place network. Elimination competitions will include "Identifying possible prime time shows", "Interpreting Nielsen ratings" and "Spotting the obvious." One major advantage of this option is that so long as the show is in production, there will be no executives at NBC headquarters to screw things up even worse.
The Today Show Primetime
That’s right; The Today Show will be moved to 10 o’clock. NBC executives admit that moving Jay Leno to that hour was a mistake but they’re not giving up on the concept of massive schedule shuffling. "Rethinking the demographics and our viewer survey results suggests folks want Meredith Vieira, Matt Lauer and Al Roker on at night," said Jeff Zucker. "And if that works out, maybe we’ll just extend The Today Show to run 24/7."
Health Care Reform
One possibility is that NBC will go back to producing successful medical drama series like ER and St. Elsewhere in the 10 P.M. time slot. Shooting has already reportedly started on the new political-medical drama Health Care Reform. Shot on location in Washington, D. C., the series features members of Congress, healthcare industry lobbyists and a frustrated President engaged in an ongoing but ultimately fruitless search for meaningful reform of America’s ailing health care system. The plot lines are apparently endless since, as Jeff Zucker says: "Let’s face it; these guys screw things up even worse than we do."