Critics 'Despise' Leno—But Audiences Adore Him
NBC is making a mistake: Howard Kurtz
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Mar 25, 2013 12:22 PM CDT
This Sept. 21, 2012 photo released by NBC shows Jay Leno, host of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," on the set in Burbank, Calif.   (AP Photo/NBC, Paul Drinkwater)

(Newser) – To hear the media tell it, it's about time NBC kicked Jay Leno to the curb. TV critics hate Leno—you can see it in the way they're covering this newest debacle—but most of the country loves him, Howard Kurtz points out on CNN. Leno has the top-rated 11:30pm show; he even beats Jimmy Kimmel and David Letterman in the 18-to-49 demographic; he jumped back to No. 1 after the first time the network booted him; he's made NBC hundreds of millions; and at 62, he's still four years younger than Johnny Carson was when he retired.

Yet "the media reaction is a collective shrug of the shoulders: Yeah, makes sense. Time to wheel the old guy off the stage." Sure, it makes sense to replace Leno with Fallon eventually, but NBC's hasty move is sure to result in a backlash from viewers, even if critics love the idea. The network's "prime-time lineup is in fifth place. Do they really need to immolate one of the few time periods where the network is No. 1?" Kurtz asks. As for the critics, "they're out of touch with the people who vote with their remote controls." Click for Kurtz's full column.

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Mar 30, 2013 1:42 PM CDT
the crtics despise him because he does`nt lean far enough left for them ! and has the gall to question the actions of their "lord and savior " in the white house !
Mar 29, 2013 12:13 AM CDT
I never understood Leno's popularity, but that's okay, many people seem to enjoy his program. I've always been a Letterman kind of guy and have stuck with him since his morning show on NBC over 30 years ago. I think Carson wanted Letterman to replace him and NBC gave him the shaft (just like they did Conan O'Brien) when he took over "Tonight" and they wouldn't give him the chance to succeed. Leno definately played a big role, however, in late-night TV history and has been around a long, long time. I still recall his Monday night debut as host after Carson's farewell back in '92 seems like yesterday ( I got married that weekend!) Although I did tune in once in a while, I was always pretty firmly committed to Letterman's wacky Steve-Allenish style of comedy and show. Plus, as he got older, Letterman wasn't afraid of getting into a Allen-Sullivan feud now-and-then. Letterman's edgy, Leno isn't. I do think O'Brien needs to be given the shot... Fallon's pretty good... O'Brien's better.
Mar 28, 2013 7:11 PM CDT
Audiences adore him? He gets 1.1 million viewers to Letterman's 1 million to Kimmels 900,000. Not exactly adoration when he's getting 35% of the competitive pie.