Jay Leno isn't laughing about his Tonight Show departure, and neither are his bosses. The late-night king is scheduled to step aside in 2009 to make way for Conan O'Brien, but he's having second thoughts, and NBC worries he'll Jaywalk to another network, the LA Times reports. “It’s 1992 all over again,” says ex-NBC exec Warren Littlefield.
That late-night soap saw Leno land the Tonight Show over David Letterman, who bolted for CBS. NBC is trying to keep Leno on board and convince him “there is life beyond late night,” said one exec, by offering him a prime-time slot. O’Brien draws a desirable audience, but replacing such a successful figure is “almost unprecedented” and “very risky,” says a TV historian.