Leno Responds To Budget Cuts -- In His Monologue
Jay Leno responded Tuesday to reports that NBC has steeply cut the budget of the Tonight show and that Leno himself had offered to take a cut in pay of as much as 25 percent to prevent further cuts. Nevertheless, some 25 staff members of the show are expected to be pink-slipped. Leno tackled the matter during his monologue on Tuesday night's show. "Welcome to the Tonight show," he began, "or as Comcast [the controlling owner of NBC] calls us, The Expendables!" And then, in an apparent reference to the time he was replaced by Conan O'Brien, Leno quipped, "As you may have heard, our parent company has downsized the Tonight show, and we've been consistently No. 1 in the ratings. And if you know anything about our network, that kind of thing is frowned upon around here." Leno said that he had a feeling that something was going to happen. "Friday morning I woke up and there was a peacock head in my bed." Leno also learned on Monday that ABC will be stepping up its competition by moving Jimmy Kimmel to 11 30 p.m. beginning Jan. 9. ABC said that the moved represented "increased revenue potential" and "a strategic shift in its late-night strategy to better position the network for increased ratings." Nightline, which currently airs at 11 35 p.m., is being moved to 12 35 a.m. but will also air at 9 00 p.m. on Fridays (before ABC's 20/20 ) starting March 1. Today's Los Angeles Times observed that while Nightline has often beat the Tonight show and David Letterman in the ratings, "the network is betting that advertisers will pay more for Kimmel's audience and that he can attract a younger crowd than Nightline ."