NBC higher-ups held discussions with both Leno and O'Brien Thursday about the future of NBC's late-night schedule, according to the newspaper. While Leno would see his time slimmed down to a half-hour, O'Brien would still host an hourlong program, which would push Late Night host Jimmy Fallon to 1:05/12:05c start time. This also leaves up in the air the future of Last Call with Carson Daly, which starts at 1:35/12:35c following Fallon.
Leno, O'Brien and Fallon will move to their respective new timeslots after the 2010 Winter Olympics wrap up on Feb. 28. The games begin Feb. 12 and will put all three comics off the air for at least two weeks, giving the network ample time to make such changes to the current lineup, the Times reports.
Reports from FTVLive and TMZ surfaced Thursday that NBC was mulling a late-night shakeup in light of both Leno and O'Brien's low ratings as well as concerns from network affiliates. NBC declined to comment on the Times report.
NBC issued statements, saying it hoped to "find new ways to improve the performance" of Leno's show and that it remained " committed to keeping Conan O'Brien on NBC."
Leno indirectly addressed the various reports during his monologue, playing off band leader Kevin Eubanks.
"As you may have heard, there is a rumor floating around that we were canceled. I heard it coming in this morning on the radio. So far no one has said anything to me. But Kev, if we did get canceled, it will give us time to do some traveling. I understand that Fox is beautiful this time of year," Leno joked. "I don't think there is any truth to the rumors. See, it's always been my experience that NBC only cancels you when when you're in first place. So we are fine."
O'Brien did not allude to the swirling scuttlebutt in his monologue.
No one addressed what will happen at 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, although NBC Entertainment chief Angela Bromstad recently talked about developing as many as 10 dramas and eight comedies.