NBC’s initial Nielsen numbers say Jay Leno’s first night back at his old Tonight Show slot was a hit. His ratings were way ahead of David Letterman. According to Nikki Finke at Deadline.com, that’s no surprise. Leno is “expected to top Letterman all week, fuelled by Olympic medal-winners and tonight’s Sarah Palin vs Mitt Romney late night booking war. The real competition won’t begin until next week.”
Certainly, Leno needs to bring in the viewers to keep affiliates and advertisers happy. But as AdAge noted, advertisers might never return to NBC’s late night line-up.
Over at Time, TV writer James Poniewozik says, based on last night’s performance, that Leno and his writers have simply given up on anything inventive: “it was back to what could largely have been a Leno monologue from before The Jay Leno Show, right down to a set of jokes about the previous Presidential administration. For a while in Leno’s monologue, it appeared that Jay was not the only one who had been restored. A news item about Dick Cheney’s heart problems led to a string of golden-oldie Bush jokes, as if the former President too had suddenly taken back his old job from the new guy. Clear message: well, that’s over! Who wants to hear an Alan Greenspan joke?”
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