It’s not wise to fire someone in slow motion who has a nationwide bully pulpit.
And so NBC is learning the hard way now that we know it plans to replace Jay Leno with Jimmy Fallon as host of the long-running Tonight Show.
Leno teed off on his own network again last night, once more using his opening monologue as a cudgel against an employer willing to ignore his strong ratings to appease its zest for youth.
“According to several reports, scientists say they are getting closer and closer to being able to do Jurassic Park-style cloning of extinct species,” Leno told his audience. “Imagine that. Things that were once thought to be extinct could be brought back from the dead. So there’s hope for NBC. It could turn around.”
It will be interesting to see how NBC responds to this nightly barrage. Should executives put pressure on Leno to quit his tomfoolery they’ll look petty and humorless. That’s hardly good for a brand struggling to attract eyeballs at the moment.
Leno, in turn, may get a smidgen of street cred as a result, a corporate clown suddenly eager to smite the power structure behind his late night program.