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Saturday, December 20, 2008

The End of Primetime?How Jay Leno could change the face of television

By Christopher Goodwin,

American television is about to undergo its biggest shake-up in decades – involving the potential loss of thousands of Hollywood jobs, and the end of prime-time drama as we know it - all because one man, Jay Leno, king of the late-night chat shows, had to be found a new job.

The dilemma of what to do about Leno when his contract expires in May has been dogging the NBC network for years. The 58-year-old comedian known for his heavy jaw, thick gray hair and relentless work ethic, has hosted The Tonight Show, a mix of comedy routines and light-hearted interviews, for 16 years since taking over from Johnny Carson.

In May, under a long-standing arrangement, he hands over the reins of the show, which broadcasts at 11.35 on weeknights, to fellow comedian Conan O'Brien, who currently hosts Late Night with Conan O'Brien, which starts when The Tonight Show finishes, at 12.30 at night.

But Leno is America's late-night ratings leader, consistently beating his arch-rival on CBS, David Letterman, and earning NBC more than $50m a year in profits.

The end of primetime?

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