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NBC's Jay Leno not feeling all the love

September 30, 2009 |  3:34 pm

Despite his new prime-time perch and a larger audience tuning in, comedian Jay Leno actually has a smaller pool of guests to draw from.

ABC and CBS have asked their stars not to appear on Leno's new 10 p.m. show because they don't want to take the chance of stealing viewers from their own networks that air expensive dramas in the 10 p.m. slot.

The issue came up Tuesday night when former 'Seinfeld" star Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who now headlines the CBS comedy "The New Adventures of Old Christine," became the first CBS star to go on Leno's new show. She told Leno that she wanted to honor her commitment to appear as a guest because she and Leno were longtime friends. She did not disclose who might have encouraged her not to appear on Leno's talk show.

"Yes, there was a little pressure, because as you know you are now on prime time and I'm on a different network," said Louis-Dreyfus, looking a little uncomfortable.

Leno interjected: "Both CBS and ABC have told their stars they can't do our show -- so that means we are doing well." Louis-Dreyfus said, "Yeah."

Tuesday night, according to Nielsen Co., 6.6 million viewers watched Leno -- down dramatically from the audience that tuned in for Leno's initial telecasts in mid-September. Still, that's about 1.5 million viewers more than had regularly watched the comedian's former 11:35 p.m. program. 

NBC executives say they are satisfied with the ratings of Leno's prime-time show.

Leno on Tuesday thanked Louis-Dreyfus for appearing, saying, "Can I give you a hug?"

Then her appearance took a comedic turn.  Louis-Dreyfus stood up and hugged Leno, revealing a plug for her new network on the backside of her dress. The CBS "eye" logo was stripped across her fanny along with the words:  "WATCH CBS."  Louis-Dreyfus then raised her calf and waved her foot, revealing for the cameras a shot of the sole of her pink pump, which was branded with: "Old Christine." 

-- Meg James