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The Latest on the Late-Night Disasterbacle

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | January 11, 2010 |

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | January 11, 2010 |

Here’s what we do know for certain: NBC has officially cancelled “The Jay Leno Show,” at least as a prime time entity, ending their dumbass experiment, which has wrecked ratings for the newscasts of NBC affiliates.

What’s still a tad uncertain is whether the principals will go through with the tentative plan that NBC has put into place for Leno to return to the 11:35 time slot, bumping Conan to midnight and Jimmy Fallon to 1 a.m. Leno is, of course, on board, and Fallon really doesn’t have much of a choice. However, O’Brien is still in talks, and according to Fox News’ unconfirmed (and probably bullshit) rumors, Conan is ready to leave NBC, possibly for Fox, with whom he has already apparently had talks. My gut says he stays at NBC, despite the shitty treatment he’s gotten with the network, which moved him, his staff, and all of their families to L.A. seven months ago, only to drop a deuce on them this week. (Conan never should’ve received the 11:30 spot, in my opinion — he’s simply not 11:30 material, which is a fairly good compliment).

In the meantime, the focus has now finally shifted to that vacant 10:00 hour on NBC’s prime time schedule. In the short term, it’s expected to be filled by two hours of scripted programming, one hour of reality programming, and a “Deadline” NBC. What will those scripted programs be? There’s nothing definite yet, but apparently, according to The TV Guide (H/T Cindy), they are looking at bringing back “Friday Night Lights” earlier than expected, which was this summer (this is great news for “FNL” fans, and for those who don’t have DirectTV, since the show is as good as it’s ever been). They also have a couple of high-profile shows, which will help fill out the schedule (though, not necessarily the 10:00 slot), including “Parenthood,” (which looks great) and Jerry Seinfeld’s reality show, “The Marriage Ref” (which doesn’t look so good). They’re also running with the idea of re-airing “Law and Order: Criminal Intent” episodes that previously aired on USA Network. More encouraging: They may fast-track an already green-lit drama called “Rex Is Not Your Lawyer,” which features the talents of one David Tennant. I’ll take my David Tennant wherever I can get him. Even on NBC.

As for the fall, NBC has greenlit six new dramas, in addition to another J.J. Abrams drama, “Undercovers.” Those include yet another “Law & Order” spin-off, set in Los Angeles (uhm … I thought the L&O franchise was all but dead?). There’s also a TV remake of “The Rockford Files” heading to NBC (exec produced by Steve Carell) and another David E. Kelley legal drama, which aren’t usually ratings bonanzas but tend to provide solid, stable numbers, which is what NBC needs right now. Jerry Bruckheimer, naturally, also has another procedural set, called “Chase,” about a team of U.S. Marshals that tracks down the nation’s most notorious criminals. NBC has also picked up a single-camera sitcom starring Adam Carolla, and a romantic-drama from a writer of “Sex and the City.”

That’ll save the network!

Anyway, I’ll leave you with this. All the late-night hosts are making hay out of the situation, even the ones (like Leno) that nobody watches anymore. But it’s probably Craig Ferguson who is coming out of this mess looking the best, if only because it doesn’t really affect him (and because he hasn’t been sleeping with his staffers, so far as we know). He’s also increasingly becoming the best of the bunch as a late-night host, as evidenced here:

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.