Report says 'Leno' is done, NBC denies it

jay-leno-320.jpg"The Jay Leno Show" is on the verge of getting the ax, a web report claims. No it's not, says NBC.

The report, subtly titled "C-Ya! NBC to pull the plug on Leno!," is on a site called FTVLive.com, which primarily covers the TV news business. It's a paid site, so the text of the story isn't public. FTV founder Scott Jones, however, did an interview with KNX radio (which is owned by CBS) Thursday (Jan. 7) in which he cites sources at NBC who told him that Leno's prime-time show would be shut down. ( Listen to the audio.)

NBC, meanwhile, issued a statement saying Leno's ratings are what they expected but acknowledging that affiliates aren't happy with the show's performance. Here's the statement:

"Jay Leno is one of the most compelling entertainers in the world today. As we have said all along, Jay's show has performed exactly as we anticipated on the network. It has, however, presented some issues for our affiliates. Both Jay and the show are committed to working closely with them to find ways to improve the performance."
In the KNX interview, Jones says that high-level meetings have been going on about Leno's future. He also isn't quite as definitive about "pulling the plug" as the headline on his site is. He says that since Leno's show will be pre-empted during the Winter Olympics, NBC could quietly slide it off the air starting in March -- although there's no backup in place -- or evaluate its crop of pilots and make a decision in the spring.

You know, like every network does every season.

It's no secret that NBC affiliates are not thrilled with "Leno's" performance, nor would it be a surprise if the network were discussing ways of how to boost the show's ratings. NBC's statement isn't exactly a ringing endorsement of the show either. But without a fully formed backup plan, the network can't just erase five hours of programming from its schedule.

NBC execs will face a roomful of reporters Sunday (Jan. 10) at the Television Critics Association press tour. Leno will very probably be topic one.

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Photo credit: NBC
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