Jay Leno could soon have a new home at Fox.
I spoke yesterday with Steve Pruett — the chairman of the network’s affiliate board — and he said a majority of its 175 member stations would likely favor building a new late night hour around the departing TONIGHT SHOW host.
“If Fox were to present the right business plan, the affiliate board would be interested,” he told me for a story in today’s New York Post.
Leno, 62, is being pushed out the door at NBC so that Jimmy Fallon can take over the coveted 11:35 PM show and move it to New York in 2014, numerous sources have confirmed.
After two decades, he remains the most-watched late night host, with over 3.5 million nightly viewers.
When he leaves, Leno “could take a sizable crowd with him,” says Hollywood manager Howard Lapides, who has repped Carson Daly, Jimmy Kimmel and others.
“Fallon will eventually develop his own audience, but it could take years.”
“If Jay Leno was my client I would take him straight to Fox tomorrow.”
But that may not be possible — yet.
Leno remains under contract with NBC through May 2014 and likely has language in his contract which would bar him from negotiating with anyone for several more months, Lapides says.
Fox has long been hoping to get back into the late night business, but hasn’t been able to find the right personality.
The network briefly courted Conan O’Brien in 2010, but couldn’t come up with money making formula based on his ratings history, insiders say.
“I think their affiliates have been very happy putting off net comedies like SEINFELD on after the news,” says Brad Adgate, VP of Research at Horizon Media.
But Leno “would be a different thing altogether,” a network source says. “He has more ratings power.”
“We could go at 11:00 PM, against the other network newscasts.”
With Jimmy Kimmel’s recent move to 11:35 PM and Arsenio Hall’s new show gobbling up the best off-network channels, Fox may be the only viable option for the embattled comic.
“I don’t think he has much wiggle room, but there are still some more opportunities,” Adgate says.
“Jay could always do Atlantic City or Vegas. He could be the new Wayne Newton.”
Latest posts by Sean Daly (see all)
- Sherri Shepherd: I Will Never Go Back To ‘The View’ - January 18, 2017
- ‘This Is Us’: NBC Renews Its Best Drama For Two More Seasons - January 18, 2017
- ‘My Kitchen Rules’: Lance Bass Wants His Own Cooking Show - January 16, 2017