By ADAM BUCKMAN
NEW YORK, Jan. 29, 2010 — Not that anyone from NBC has called and asked, but in case they do, I have five helpful suggestions to get NBC on its feet again — and each of these ideas have one thing in common: Jay Leno!
1) Jay Leno at 10 p.m. and 11:35 p.m.: Hey, why not? Aspects of the 10 p.m. plan still make sense, if NBC is still hellbent on saving money on prime-time shows. And Leno is their guy. Got a problem at 10? Call Jay Leno. Need him to come back and stop the bleeding on “Tonight”? Just call Jay. He’s such a workhorse, he’ll do anything to help NBC, even host two shows every night!
2) The NBC Nightly News with . . . Jay Leno! Sure, serious news guy Brian Williams can still have his oh-so important newscast every evening — but only if he agrees to move the newscast a half-hour later, so Jay can do a half-hour “newscast” of his own — a fun-filled half-hour of topical monologue jokes and hilarious pretaped comedy bits derived from the day’s biggest news stories. Tell Brian he can still handle the serious side of the news, if only to keep him from going to another network. Hey, everyone knows the nation gets its real news from Jay Leno anyway — this just makes it official!
3) Jays of Our Lives: Freshen up this aging afternoon soap opera with a new character, a television personality embroiled in his own long-running soap opera — Jay Leno as himself! In this new storyline, which could run for five years or more, Jay plays a successful comedian who manages to maintain the highest ratings in late-night as host of the show that represents the pinnacle of achievement in the comedy business. Everything’s going well until NBC decides to replace him in five years with a brash newcomer. Get ready for a bumpy ride!
4) The Today Show with Jay Leno: Why not launch a fifth hour of “Today” starting at 11 a.m. and let Jay do for mornings what he did for late-night — keeping NBC No. 1 (until the network decides idiotically to yank him from mornings too). In this fun-filled hour, Jay delivers his first topical monologue of the day, riffing on the morning’s headlines and parodying the newsmaker interviews seen on the first two hours of “Today.” If you liked Jay feuding with David Letterman in late-night, just wait ’til he and Barbara Walters go at it at 11 o’clock in the morning!
5) The Jay Leno Channel (JLC): It’s no secret — NBC is staking its future on cable television and this new all-Jay-all-the-time cable network fits right in with NBC’s strategy of relying solely on Jay Leno to keep the company afloat. Package scores of his old monologues into “Best of” retrospectives, play every old movie in which Jay appears — from “Major League II” to “Space Cowboys” — have Jay host everything from cooking shows (“Iron Chef” hosted by “Iron Jay”?) to late-night infomercials. He’s the hardest-working man on NBC’s payroll and now, this new destination on cable ensures that NBC gets its money’s worth from its most loyal — and valuable — soldier. Who else? Jay Leno!
Contact Adam Buckman: AdamBuckman14@gmail.com