Officially, a network would have to deny something as nutty as this:
Thanks to Conan O'Brien's disappointing transition into the 'Tonight Show' chair, I've heard NBC has their eyes on replacing him with none other than their golden boy, Jerry Seinfeld. Is a big old change on the horizon for struggling NBC and their late-night lineup? Just what does NBC's spokesperson say about this?
With Conan O'Brien ratings slipping faster than Tiger Woods' endorsement appeal, TV executives are telling me that informal discussions have started to occur within 30 Rock as to who would be the home-run replacement for the hysterical but sagging redhead. The name on everyone's wish list? Jerry Seinfeld.
"NBC just can't carry on like this. 'The Tonight Show' has lost 52 percent of its viewership in just one year. The November ratings will be the show's lowest in 15 years. They would be idiots to not be having the replacement conversation," a source tells me.
That may very well be, but where do you go if Jay Leno is standing around, all hangdog and anxious, wanting his job back and Jerry Seinfeld tells them to take a powder? Who has the stature to step in over the bodies and run things?
What people don't remember is the absolute power Johnny Carson once had in his position as the king of Late Night. Not necessarily in show business, but, really, a power over NBC and a voice in virtually all discussions where the interests of NBC collided with his own. Carson demanded and received multiple concessions from NBC, limiting the old Letterman show on NBC to four nights a week. Does anyone remember when the Letterman show would only run four nights a week, taking Fridays off for "alternate" programming? That left Carson (who took Monday nights off) to have his showcase to himself, scheduling big guests for an end of the week finale. Is there anyone in television right now who could pull off such a thing if it cost the network money?
Anyway, Conan is toast if the numbers continue to slide like they have been.