Yes, North Korea is rattling its saber again, and Iran continues to threaten Israel. But those are like repeats of “The Tonight Show,” old news. No, we have a bigger battle looming here. We all know that the world of television and its advertisers value the youngest of viewers the most. I mean, after all, the youngest viewers have so much disposable income and routinely settle down to watch 11:30 p.m. network entertainment shows — not!
And, yes, I know that Jay Leno, like most on network TV, is a self-proclaimed “liberal,” but I could care less. Next to David Letterman, he looks like Barry Goldwater.
The problem is that Leno — the most watched late night host in America — happens to be in his 60s. You see, the jerks at Comcast — who, in my opinion, ought to get their horrible customer service and often crummy reception under control first — have reportedly decided, through their new brilliant leadership of NBC, to shove Leno aside in favor of a Jimmy Fallon-hosted and New York-based “Tonight Show.”
Fallon is a likeable and funny guy. And he is in his 30s, so he has greater potential to appeal to younger viewers in years to come. I get all of that. But what puzzles me is why a guy who has continually won the ratings war and is, by virtually every account, a good and decent man, has to be jerked around by a network whose news department seems an adjunct of a presidential administration and has some of the worst primetime programming since the days of “My Mother the Car.”
This is all about age and ego. Comcast takes over NBC, so of course they have to apply their “corporate culture” to everything, including one of the few shows they have that isn’t in the tank. What next, will they yank SNL because they deem Lorne Micheals is too darn old to know what’s funny? Perhaps they can replace him with their MSNBC talk show host, the Rev. Al Sharpton. Listening to him struggle on air is about as funny as anything the owners of NBC and its related companies seem to be capable of producing.
The critics generally hate Leno, because to them he’s too much a part of “average” America. He doesn’t have the endless — and I mean endless — sarcasm of Letterman and actually refrains from attacking people. He’s not cutting edge. He’s too much the apple pie American. Oh and he’s too funny to a majority of Americans.
And NBC doesn’t seem to really care about those of us who are, say 50 years old, have worked hard, saved money and have real disposable income. Most of the MSNBC “news hosts” advocate that we be taxed to death or “share the wealth” with government. NBC’s so-called top news correspondents are not very adroit at hiding their similar views.
What Leno does is make even us folks in our late-40s, 50s, or older take an hour to forget how hard we have worked. He takes our attention away from how much liberty and personal resources we have lost through the idiotic moves of both Democrat and Republican leaders. And when he does focus on these matters, he brings us together for a laugh. He is an equal opportunity offender with his humor, but one with a heart.
It seems like the last person to accomplish what Jay Leno has achieved was a man named Johnny Carson. Lord knows he wouldn’t have survived the “too cool for school” geniuses at today’s NBC either. After all, “Carnac the Magnificent” would have never flown with a 26-year-old viewer with two college loans to pay off and money left over for pizza once a week.
So Jay, although I don’t know you and likely never will, this is for you. ... I think I now know why NBC has shows named “Grimm,” “The Biggest Loser,” and “Deception,” — they all seem to represent the mood, performance level and tactics of top NBC executives. My best guess is that these same experts described themselves perfectly when they also scheduled “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers.” Because that’s just what the new leaders at NBC are ... off their rockers!
Matt Towery heads the polling and political information firm InsiderAdvantage.