Dick Ebersol is aptly named
Nobody can accuse NBC executive Dick Ebersol of not being a company man. If you've been living under a rock, NBC has decided to kill Jay Leno's 10 p.m. weeknight talk show and wants to put Leno back at 11:35, thus pushing back Conan O'Brien’s "Tonight Show." O’Brien, as one might expect, is balking about the move and has been very public in bashing the network's plan. And now Ebersol is trying to shift the blame for the whole mess to O’Brien, calling him an "astounding failure." Ebersol also ripped O’Brien and fellow late-night host David Letterman for their pointed jokes about the situation, saying, "It’s chicken-hearted and gutless to blame a guy (Leno) you couldn’t beat in the ratings. They're just striking out at Jay.” Chicken-hearted? It's not as if O'Brien and Letterman are leaking statements to the National Enquirer. They're making them on national TV in front of millions of viewers. And let's remember that it was NBC who pushed Leno out of the "Tonight Show" seat and replaced him with O'Brien. As for that "astounding failure" remark, I think O'Brien, whose previous show needed time to build an audience, deserves more than seven months to succeed with the "Tonight Show." Ebersol also is taking O'Brien to task for blaming his own so-so ratings on the weak lead-in provided by Leno. Let's face facts, Dick. Leno's ratings at 10 p.m. stink. That's the reason you're killing his show. And O'Brien isn't the only one pointing to the sorry lead-in provided by Leno. NBC affiliates are reportedly hacked, and losing money, because Leno is providing such a weak lead-in to their 11 p.m. news programs. Leno promised something new and different when he moved from 11:35 to 10 p.m., but instead he rolled out the same old, tired gags from his old show. Viewers stayed away in droves. Leno is the real underachiever here. It's really easy to settle this whole mess. If Ebersol is so convinced that O'Brien is an "astounding failure," he and NBC should have no problem releasing O'Brien from his NBC deal and allowing him to immediately take his talk show to another network, where he could compete directly with Leno. Yeah, right.