TCA: Jay Leno impersonates Kimmel impersonating a reporter
Show business is all about one-upping the competition.
Last week at press tour, Jimmy Kimmel posed as a reporter demanding answers from ABC President of Entertainment Steve McPherson about the fate of his late-night show. Rumors have been swirling again that ABC might want to grab Jay Leno when his stint as “Tonight Show” host ends next May.
On Monday, Leno, in a disguise that included a bald head, demonstrated he’s a good sport by showing up during NBC’s executive session with reporters and inquiring about his awkward situation. But the stunt fell a bit flat in the room because the disguise rendered Leno unrecognizable and also because he didn’t seem to be offering jokes as questions. After Leno left, one critic asked NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Co-Chairmen Ben Silverman and Marc Graboff whether it had actually been him.
All gimmicks aside, the NBC executives announced that Leno, whose contract officially expires in December 2009, will have his last show on May 29, and that Conan O’Brien will replace him as “Tonight Show” host June 1.
That makes Leno a hot ticket, and ABC is certainly interested in him. Although McPherson says he is committed to Kimmel, whose show took off with viewers this year, he also pointed out last week that there could be room for both late-night hosts at his network.
Not so fast, said Graboff Monday, adding that NBC Universal is still talking to Leno about staying at the company in a different capacity.
“If we had the ‘Tonight Show’ still available, it probably wouldn’t take so long,” Silverman said about the negotiations. “But it’s just trying to be creative and work with Jay in a way that he would want to stay and find an environment that he would embrace.”
(Leno, as reporter, joked that NBC Universal had offered him a fifth hour on the “Today” show.)
“When we made the deal with Jay four years ago, we made a long-term deal with him,” Graboff said. “We’ve been talking to him pretty much that whole time about the future beyond the ‘Tonight Show.’ We can’t force him to do something. We’re presenting him with a number of opportunities that we think will be great and we’re hoping that he eventually thinks will be great as well.”
It was Leno’s idea to appear at press tour and imitate the ABC session, said Silverman.
“The point that we want you guys to take away from Jay being here is that we have a great relationship with Jay Leno,” Silverman said. “Whether this is not the best decision today in the press’ minds is one thing. But we just want to be clear: Jay Leno is a partner of ours. We’ve had an unbelievable business with Jay and are continuing to work with Jay and we’re looking for a way that he could remain part of the family.”
Another member of the NBC family who will have a different role next year is “Saturday Night Live” actress Amy Poehler, who has agreed to be the star of a spinoff of “The Office” that is not really a spinoff.
The series, created by Greg Daniels and Michael Schur, will be a workplace comedy with a similar style to “The Office” but will not feature any of the Dunder Mifflin gang. Silverman hopes to launch the series in March, after Poehler completes her “Saturday Night Live” duties and has her first baby.
Daniels and Schur are working on another spinoff of “The Office” that will feature members of the cast and put them in a different environment, Silverman said.
“It was a great chance for us to land [Poehler],” Silverman said.
-- Maria Elena Fernandez