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NBC moving Jay Leno and bumping Conan O'Brien would be embarrassing for network


Imagine uprooting your family, almost all of your employees, and some of their families for a job promotion. Things are good back home, but this isn't your ordinary job promotion. This is an offer that may never pass your way again. You move. NO, YOU MOVE!!

Fast forward seven months later. The previous person who had your job is tanking at his new one. So your bosses, who are also his bosses, decide to make a move that will return the previous person to your position. Moreover, there's a possibility you may lose your job altogether.

Right now, this is the life of Conan O' Brien, who may royally get the screws put to him by NBC.

The plans for O'Brien to succeed Jay Leno   as host of The Tonight Show were put into action as far back as 2004. However, Leno allegedly had reservations of moving his time slot as early as a year or two before his final episode, which aired last May. However, when other networks explored the possibility of pursuing Leno when there was talk of him leaving NBC, the network moved Leno to his current 10pm slot.

Despite his previously high ratings for The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, it seems that his new vehicle, The Jay Leno Show, has been a train wreck from the start. A local news affiliate in Boston even balked at the notion of airing Leno at the earlier time slot, claiming that it would be detrimental for their news lead-in at 11pm. Other stations reported losses in revenue due to the change. Despite these incidents, you have to wonder if Leno's possible move back to 11:35pm is due to  A) The revenue loss suffered by local affiliates B) NBC-Universal getting nervous over cleaning up this mess before their impending merger with Comcast, or both.

At the same time, O'Brien's ratings have suffered. This is most likely due to the overall inconsistency of Leno's show followed by the local news, as well as David Letterman's  increase in ratings due to his self-publicized scandal regarding his liaisons with several of his female employees. Yours truly has been an O'Brien backer since the first day he landed on NBC. Even my soon-to-be 67 year-old father finds it impossible to contain himself at O'Brien's shenanigans. And while PimpBot, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, and Lincoln Money Shots appear less frequently now than at No seriously, Conan I love the move. It's great...for me to.......12:35am, he has handled the transition extremely well without deviating from why NBC choose him as Jay Leno's "apparent" successor. Actually, O'Brien seems to be getting even funnier as the weeks go on.

Earlier this week, there had been talk out of Hollywood that Leno's new show would be cancelled, and that he could return to his former late-night slot . On Friday, rumors began circulating that Leno will indeed be moving back to 11:35pm, and O'Brien would be bumped to 12:05am. There has also been talk of O'Brien returning to his former 12:35am slot, with Jimmy Fallon   getting pushed back an hour. There is even the possibility that O'Brien may be bumped off NBC altogether, but they are reportedly letting O'Brien decide what he thinks is best  before any final decision is made.

Either way, this whole scenario is ridiculous, it's creating more questions  and problems than solutions for everyone involved. And if I were O'Brien, I would be quite annoyed to say the least. His move from New York to Los Angeles has been in the works for more than half a decade, and now this soap opera transpires? Better yet, didn't NBC ever consider the fact that Leno's new show could falter? Did they entertain a possible solution if it did? From the looks of it, obviously not. O'Brien has always shown tremendous respect for Leno over the years, and has been quiet regarding the situation at hand despite the fact that the mitigating circumstances are less than favorable for him at this time.

However, O'Brien couldn't resist a monologue joke on last night's episode, stating that his show was going to be great, but he had no idea when it was airing. O'Brien was obviously making light of the situation, but there better be clauses in his contract allowing him to move to another network if he is not granted a favorable scenario for the future of his show. Having a sister once in the television business, I am well aware of competitive clauses that prevent news anchors and reporters from moving to rival networks after a recent departure from a local station. FOX has reportedly expressed interest in O'Brien if NBC lets him walk. The question is, will O'Brien's audience follow him to another network? Could he possibly wind up competing against Leno at 11:35pm? I'm sure now more than ever, sidekick Andy Richter  is probably asking the all important question: "The future, Conan?"................

Now back to Leno. Is NBC SERIOUSLY going to appease him (or possibly his agent) by giving him just a half hour show? Leno and O'Brien are hefty salary makers for the network, but how many times will viewers follow them to different time slots? It's obvious that it didn't happen with Leno at 10pm. Is it simply the fact that viewers like Leno better 90 minutes later? Most importantly, is this big enough of a gamble to where you would risk losing a talent like O'Brien, who could carry late night television at NBC for years to come? Stay tuned. A resolution could come sooner than later.

Either way NBC really dropped the ball on this one, and you can't help but feel they now have egg on their face again.

thumbnail: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Triumph Photo: www.unrealitymag.com

Leno and O'Brien photo: www.scrapetv.com