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Leno spanking Letterman

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Leno spanking Letterman

Old 11-03-03, 09:24 AM
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Leno spanking Letterman

Late at Night, That's NBC Crowing
By BILL CARTER

Published: November 3, 2003


en years into the deeply personal competition for supremacy in late-night television, NBC has decided the time is finally right to send CBS and its star, David Letterman, a pointed and very public message:

"There is no more late-night war," said Jeff Zucker, president of NBC Entertainment, echoing a claim he first made in the summer that NBC's "Tonight" show had definitively vanquished CBS's "Late Show."

The current numbers appear to back up NBC's chest-beating assertions. In the first five weeks of the television season, Jay Leno has opened up his biggest lead in five years. Mr. Leno draws 2 million more viewers than Mr. Letterman's "Late Show," 5.8 million to 3.8 million. And Mr. Leno enjoys his biggest edge ever in the rivalry for 18-to-49-year-old viewers, the ones NBC - and many advertisers - most covet.

Not surprisingly, the Letterman side has some aggressive counterarguments, from the weakness of much of CBS's lineup of shows at 10 p.m. and the late news of CBS stations, to new quirks in the television ratings system.

But the show's lagging performance and Mr. Letterman's apparent disinclination to take any special steps to deal with the ratings falloff cannot help but be worrisome to CBS executives. The "Late Show" gave CBS a huge profit center it never had before the network hired Mr. Letterman 10 years ago, and if the ratings trend continues, tens of millions of dollars in advertising revenue may be at stake.

Mr. Leno's ratings lead is not new. He has held it, with varying margins, for the past eight years. But with the biggest lead in five years, NBC executives are willing, even eager, to go for Mr. Letterman's jugular. NBC also seems bent on trying to redress critical slights that Mr. Leno has suffered while Mr. Letterman has been consistently winning awards and praise as a comic genius.

Indeed, if they had penalties for taunting in television, NBC would surely draw a flag. "I think there are two factors here," Mr. Zucker said in a telephone interview. "The 'Tonight' show has gotten stronger because Jay and his producer, Debbie Vickers, have brought freshness to the comedy; and I think the Letterman show appears more tired."

He added: "I think it's hard for the national media to accept the fact that Jay is so dominant. The national media has always been more drawn to the dark, brooding cynicism of Dave, rather than the populist wit of Jay."

Rob Burnett, one of Mr. Letterman's executive producers, offers the consistent CBS response to Mr. Leno's ratings lead: no matter what the ratings say, Mr. Letterman remains the more original, more worthy talent.

"There are two parts of the so-called late-night war," Mr. Burnett said. "One is: who's the best. That part of the war is over. Dave won."

(Like Mr. Zucker, Mr. Burnett was serving as a surrogate commentator because both stars declined to comment themselves.)

"Jay runs the 'Tonight' show like a political campaign," Mr. Burnett added. "If he thinks something will attract more viewers, he'll do it. Jay sees that Arnold Schwarzenegger is hot, so he introduces Arnold at a political rally. He sees that wrestling is hot, so he wrestles for the W.W.F. Maybe Jay earned himself a few more viewers for doing those things, but you have to ask yourself: Who would you rather be? Jay or Dave?"

Mr. Burnett and CBS executives do offer some mitigating circumstances for Mr. Letterman's flagging ratings fortunes. Thanks to shows like "Law & Order" and "E.R.," NBC has a much stronger lineup at 10 p.m., the better to funnel more viewers to late local news, which is also far stronger on NBC stations, and then into the "Tonight" show.

While that state of affairs is not new, this year's strange disappearance of younger male viewers has disproportionately affected Mr. Letterman. He is off by 65 percent in that group, one of the highest declines in television. By contrast, Mr. Leno is off by less than 20 percent. (Nielsen Media Research insists the numbers are correct. Network executives are skeptical.)

Even with these explanations, CBS's top research executive, David F. Poltrack, conceded, "You have to acknowledge the 'Tonight' show has been resilient this season."

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/03/bu...partner=GOOGLE
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This makes me sad. I like Leno... sometimes I Tivo his show for a music guest (and his street interviews can be hilarious), but in my mind there is no competition which show is more consistently funny. I know many think Letterman has lost his edge, but I still love his show. And he's been getting some killer musical groups lately as well. Oh well.
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Old 11-03-03, 09:25 AM
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Old 11-03-03, 09:45 AM
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Originally posted by Patman
Pics?
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Old 11-03-03, 10:43 AM
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hee hee... I've got the secret video and just awaiting some Ebay bids!
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Old 11-03-03, 10:49 AM
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Leno's humor is like oatmeal, no zing or spice to it, but anyone can eat it with no problem. He certainly doesn't do any jokes that might offend anyone, and his interviews are about as softball as you can get. Okay, it's an entertainment show, not "60 Minutes", but his questions and the guests' answers are just so much rehearsed pap. Letterman is not much better in that department.

Honk!
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Old 11-03-03, 10:53 AM
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Re: Leno spanking Letterman

Originally posted by atlantamoi
"Jay runs the 'Tonight' show like a political campaign," Mr. Burnett added. "If he thinks something will attract more viewers, he'll do it. Jay sees that Arnold Schwarzenegger is hot, so he introduces Arnold at a political rally. He sees that wrestling is hot, so he wrestles for the W.W.F. Maybe Jay earned himself a few more viewers for doing those things, but you have to ask yourself: Who would you rather be? Jay or Dave?"


And actually, Leno does occasionally do jokes that offends "celebrities"...but whatever "zing/spice" they might have is constantly lessened by the way he kisses ass when the subject of his "joke" comes onto the show to push a product...
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Old 11-03-03, 11:27 AM
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jay's an ass-kiss, he will do anything it takes to get a viewer. dave doesn't lower himself like that. he believes in his talent, his employees and his viewers and doesn't change depending on which way the wind is blowing. i would rather watch dave any day and i do! (female, 25)
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Old 11-03-03, 11:29 AM
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Give me Letterman or give me death!
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Old 11-03-03, 11:36 AM
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you won't find me taking a picture with Leno....


Last edited by djbrown; 11-03-03 at 11:39 AM.
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Old 11-03-03, 11:41 AM
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Originally posted by Charlie Goose
Letterman is not much better in that department.
Letterman might not be the best interviewer, but in 20 years of watching his show I rarely tune in for whoever his guest is. The first 20 minutes of his show is always fun.
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Old 11-03-03, 11:45 AM
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Letterman will never pander to get viewers like Leno will. He's the best and always will be. End of story.
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Old 11-03-03, 12:27 PM
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The set's dreary colour palette combined with Letterman's increasingly sour personality make the Late Show unattractive when you flip past it. Tonight Show is bright, shiny and energetic. Leno's show is an "up" kind of show. To paraphrase Stewy from Family Guy:

Oh, it's so easy to make fun of Jay Leno. He's out there every damn night with fresh material. And face it: The man is charming.

IMHO, Conan is better than either of them. He has Leno's energy and charm with Letterman's clever wit.
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Old 11-03-03, 12:30 PM
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As good a place as any to ask the question:

Does anybody know where all the "Meet the Governor" clips come from on Letterman?
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Old 11-03-03, 12:44 PM
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Conan is still better than both Leno and Letterman, but Leno is just really unfunny to me.
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Old 11-03-03, 12:47 PM
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Jay blows. I'm sorry, but he gets on my nerves.

I also agree that Letterman has grown sour over the years. Twenty years ago, he was brilliant, but his act hasn't aged well. I suppose it would be hard to keep it up, and he's not as young and "hip" as he was back in the day, but he still kicks Jay's ass all over the place. I'd rather watch Letterman stumble than see Jay kiss asses.

Conan beats them both handily, though. But I miss Andy.
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Old 11-03-03, 12:51 PM
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I think this is happening more due to the fact that smarter people watch Dave, and shows like the Daily Show are drawing them away. The drones who tune into leno every night largely do so out of habit...just turn on channel 4 and leave it. But more discriminating folks that tend to prefer Letterman are going elsewhere due to more choices of late and that's hurting Dave's numbers....
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Old 11-03-03, 01:08 PM
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Re: Leno spanking Letterman

Originally posted by atlantamoi
"There are two parts of the so-called late-night war," Mr. Burnett said. "One is: who's the best. That part of the war is over. Dave won."
Swallow that one down, Jay. It's nice to win the ratings war and all, but it's pretty obvious one show won't kill off the other. I think it was pretty lame of NBC to start bragging about ratings again. A show made popular by Hugh Grant, Dancing Itos and people who can't answer a 5th grade history class question correctly.
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Old 11-03-03, 01:30 PM
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Originally posted by brizz
I think this is happening more due to the fact that smarter people watch Dave, and shows like the Daily Show are drawing them away. The drones who tune into leno every night largely do so out of habit...just turn on channel 4 and leave it. But more discriminating folks that tend to prefer Letterman are going elsewhere due to more choices of late and that's hurting Dave's numbers....
very well put.
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Old 11-03-03, 02:53 PM
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Leno seems like an ass kisser. I don't care what the numbers say, I still watch Letterman over Leno whenever i have the time to do so.
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Old 11-03-03, 03:28 PM
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Still, you can't ignore that Letterman is pulling in 3.8 million viewers.

I remember back in the earl to mid 80s when Letterman was *the* show to watch and getting tickets to the Letterman show was hard to do (my school's band had sent him a letter saying that if they didn't get tickets on the date they were going to be in NYC they would play outside of his studio, but he never responded). But that was 20 years ago, now I never watch him and watch Leno on a fairly regular basis (a few times / week).
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Old 11-03-03, 03:37 PM
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The Late Show is the hardest show to get tickets to in New York city. You basically have to put yourself on a waiting list atleast a year in advance, or be one of the lucky few to get tickets the day of. I've tried twice, this year, and didn't get any.
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Old 11-03-03, 04:16 PM
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Letterman
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Old 11-03-03, 04:27 PM
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Which show did Johnny make an appearance on after he retired?
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Old 11-03-03, 04:28 PM
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I'll bet anything that the demographics for the people who do watch Dave are very tasty themselves even if they're a smaller number.

Only reason I ever watch Leno is if a really interesting guest or performer is on. Otherwise it's Dave all the time.
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Old 11-03-03, 04:33 PM
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Info-mercials make better late night entertainment than Leno.
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