First, there was the Oprah crisis. After September 9, 2011, you'll have to find alternative ways to get your fix from the Oprah Winfrey communications empire. She was kind enough, before she told the rest of the world, to call Ellen DeGeneres to let her know that her twenty-fifth year at the top of the heap would be her last. There are still so many other mountains to climb, metaphorically speaking.
This void may be filled by Ellen when she is not busy judging American Idols, but it won't be Tyra Banks battling her for talk show supremacy. Tyra will pull the plug on her five-year chatfest this spring. Her focus will be exclusively on America's Next Top Model. No word on whether she called to give Ellen the heads-up.
Maybe Ellen should call Jay Leno to let him know that the world in which everyone, including William Shatner, has their own talk show. It won't be me. I will be happy to see the sun go down on Jay's prime-time show. I have not watched, so I won't miss it. I never watched when he was hosting the Tonight Show, either. I have watched more complete episodes of Oprah, Ellen, and Tyra than I have Jay.
And not because I don't think Jay is funny. He might be. I used to think he was very funny, back when he showed up on David Letterman's late night show on NBC. When he was a comedian. When he was funny, instead of a corporate tool. I was one of those who believed that Johnny Carson's heir apparent was Letterman, not Leno, and to be honest I never gave Jay any chance at all. When General Electric decided to save money by moving their big chin into a prime-time slot that used to house scripted dramas, I hoped their experiment would fail.
Now that has come to pass, and yet I feel empty inside. All signs point to Leno moving back to eleven thirty, while Conan O'Brien will be shoved back to midnight. And Conan's show will still be called "Tonight." Jimmy Fallon, in the meantime, will be hanging around in the wee-Tom-Snyder hours of the morning.
Or not. These kind of deals don't seem built to last. Instead, they seem like desperate moves made by desperate men. When the dust settles, who will be watching? People who don't have to get up and go to work every morning. Like Oprah.