Op-Ed: Leno/Fallon – By Bob Lefsetz

We hate him, but he wins.

In other words, the execs come and go, but the talent remains.

Jimmy Fallon has a terrific show. But if NBC lets Jay Leno go, he'll just jump to ABC and trounce everybody. Comedians are not athletes, their skills don't wane over time. This is ageism at its worst.

Who hates Leno?

Insiders and hipsters.

It's kind of like firing Nickelback, giving them away because of critical backlash. But the mainstream public LOVES Nickelback.

You don't have to go. You don't have to watch Leno.

I far prefer Letterman, but Dave hasn't been the same since he went to 11:35 two decades back. He junked the wrestling shoes, put on three piece suits and playing to everybody, lost some of his edge. I've missed Dave for years, he was unmissable at 12:35. And if he does anything worth seeing… I'll catch it on the replay on YouTube.

So much is made of the YouTube antics of Kimmel and Fallon. But they're using it to fight up the ladder. Going from down below to higher up. Whereas Leno is the perennial king! He beat Dave and they demoted him to ten p.m., and then he won again at 11:35, replacing Conan, the previous great young hope, who might still be on television, but is no longer part of the national discussion.

And putting Fallon on an hour earlier is actually the safe thing to do. The chat show is decades old, and the last person to reinvent it was Letterman himself, with the help of Merrill Markoe. Johnny Carson didn't always make jokes, he sometimes listened. How much sillier can we get, maybe we need a return to substance!

But one thing's for sure… Late night TV doesn't mean what it used to. If for no other reason than you can punch up something on your DVR instead of being subjected to the hype of two-dimensional stars. Yup, these actors and actresses and celebrities are only on to sell, and since they're selling, they're appearing EVERYWHERE! You can get the story, assuming you care, online the next day.

The fact that this is big news is jaw-dropping.

Other than the fact that they're screwing Jay Leno one more time.

He won, he's the king, he continues to be the king, but you're gonna put him out to pasture all in the name of making the show younger even though the latest info says that older people do buy products and young demos are not everything.

Just bugs me the way they're piling up on Leno.

He's starting to fight back. Something he's refused to do before. Maybe we're finally getting a new, edgier Jay, one closer to Rodney Dangerfield, one who gets no respect, but deserves much.

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