According to the New York Times, the network is upset by Jay Leno's jokes about NBC's ratings futility. Leno's monologue on Feb. 28 mocked NBC by saying its network ratings had fallen so much that it called Manti Te'o "and asked him to bring in some imaginary viewers." Top NBC executive Robert Greenblat fired off an email to Leno complaining about the jibe.
NBC can't win this fight, you know. It is making a big mistake by trying to push around one of its biggest stars. Leno, like all late-night jokesters, thrives on people's insecurities and exhibitions of pompous behavior. If NBC thought it could muffle or silence Leno by getting tough with him, the executives were under the wrong impression.
Leno probably already has some ill feelings toward his employer going back to Johnny Carson's messy departure. Leno was cast as a heavy in that mini-drama, the bad guy who conspired to force out the beloved Johnny Carson. Then, NBC almost passed over Leno and considered picking David Letterman for the plum job. Then, too, Leno felt as if NBC was messing with him. Someone as penly proud as Jay Leno takes slights very badly.
NBC should laugh at itself. It wouldn't hurt as well if the network could find some hit shows. Jay Leno would have a hard time poking fun at a big winner.
Get the latest headlines from Jon Friedmans Media Matrix delivered to your inbox every day.