Faced with the failure of the biggest recent gamble in television, NBC is shuffling its late-night deck one more time.
The network has a plan in the works to restore Jay Leno to his old spot at 11:35 each weeknight for a half-hour, while pushing the man who replaced him, Conan O’Brien, to a starting time of 12:05 a.m. Mr. O’Brien would then have a full hour.
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NBC executives held extensive discussions with both Mr. Leno and Mr. O’Brien on Thursday about the future of the network’s late-night lineup. One senior executive, who declined to be identified because of the continuing talks, said that the moves were still being thrashed out by the representatives of each of the stars, but that an agreement was essentially in place. There is no timetable yet to issue a final announcement of the plan because contractual details remain to be worked out.
The change, if completed, would represent a retreat from the network’s strategy of replacing Mr. Leno, who drove “The Tonight Show” to the top of the late-night ratings, with the younger, hipper Mr. O’Brien, then trying to save money in prime time by replacing expensive dramas with Mr. Leno’s show at 10 p.m.
Read More: By Bill Carter, NBC