Leno Is Out Rumors Swirl -- Was NBC's Huge Pilot Order the Smoking Gun? [Updated]

Last Updated Jan 7, 2010 1:04 PM EST

(UPDATE #3: At an already-scheduled press event Sunday afternoon, NBC made it official: Jay Leno will leave primetime in February, airing his last 10 p.m. show on Feb. 11. The rest of how this will work out isn't yet known, though NBC Universal chairman Jeff Gaspin says the network would like to keep Leno, "Tonight Show" host Conan O'Brien and "Late Night" host Jimmy Fallon at the network. Good luck! Also now confirmed as of Sunday evening: Leno will take back the 11:35 p.m. slot, allegedly for a half hour.)

(UPDATE #2: Here's the latest in late night: that Conan O'Brien's show -- whatever they might call it -- will go on at 12:05 a.m., while Leno does a half-hour show at 11:35. Way to save face, NBC! Oh wait, at this point, that story is still only attributable to unnamed sources.)

(UPDATE #1: While I was out with my daughter this afternoon, this story -- though still speculation -- got even bigger. TMZ -- which is, at the very least, great at announcing celebrity deaths -- is reporting that Leno will return to "The Tonight Show," as I predicted last week. The more reputable Bill Carter at The New York Times wrote this afternoon:

While executives said that no final decision has been made, they did not deny that the network is considering moves that could include returning Mr. Leno to his old job as host of "The Tonight Show."
Earlier in the afternoon, NBC came out of the closet and said something, denying the FTVLive report that "Leno" was going to be cancelled, but admitting that the low-rated show had caused problems for NBC affiliates.)

Sometimes you write a post that you find intriguing and nobody cares. And sometimes, the opposite. That's what happened on Monday when I speculated what I thought to be the obvious: that NBC's decision to order up 18 pilots for next season, including 10 one-hour dramas, was a death knell for "The Jay Leno Show." It seemed like overkill, unless the plan was to kill "Leno" in all or in part. Now, word is beginning to swirl that the jig, or shall we say, the gig, for Leno is up.

A paid site called FTVlive.com is reporting that Leno is out. While I couldn't jump the firewall to see the story, what it said, according to FoxBusiness.com, is the following:

NBC executives have deemed Leno's 10 p.m. show "a failure" that is not making the network money and have decided to pull the plug. Citing anonymous sources, the site said executives have not yet decided when to pull the show or what may replace it.
The FTVLive story, too, cited the number of pilots NBC has ordered up. What's more telling, in its own roundabout way, is the radio silence thus far from NBC. Gawker (and sister site Defamer) picked up on my original post, so has nymag.com (the Web site for New York magazine), and Hollywood.com. Now, not only FoxBusiness but CBSNews.com is running with the "Leno is out" story.

But has NBC said a word? From what I can tell, no. Stay tuned.

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