Jay Leno promises more comedy, less chat on new show

Wed Aug 5, 2009 10:57pm EDT
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Talk show host Jay Leno on Wednesday promised his new show would have more comedy, fewer celebrities promoting new ventures and guests would get out of their seats when the program hits the air in its new 10 pm hour in September.

Leno said he was planning a regular comedy segment with NBC news anchor Brian Williams and was building a "green car" race track outside his new studio where celebrities, possibly including Tom Cruise, will power round the circuit in a high performance electric car challenge.

Old favorites from Leno's 17-year stint on "The Tonight Show" like the opening comedy monologue will remain, but his familiar desk is being jettisoned and popular segments like "Jaywalking," in which he interviews people on sidewalks, will move to the latter half of "The Jay Leno Show."

"There will be something for everyone. Hopefully it will play across the board," Leno told television critics at a gathering to showcase upcoming programs. "It won't be talk show and it won't be a variety show with wigs and hats on."

Leno, who ended his run on NBC's "The Tonight Show" in May as the late-night ratings king, said there would be less music and likely just one or two guests instead of three. He declined to reveal who would be among the first stars on his show.

The decision by struggling NBC to broadcast "The Jay Leno Show" at 10 pm five nights a week is being carefully watched as the television industry seeks to cut costs and retain audiences who have deserted TV sets in droves for video-games, social networking sites and other forms of entertainment.

But NBC executives said they had no ratings target by which to measure its success and said research had shown audiences were hungry for comedy at 10 pm as an alternative to scripted dramas on rival networks at that hour.

"It is a marathon. (Success) is not going to be determined in the first five days of the show," said Angela Bromstad, NBC's primetime entertainment chief.   Continued...

<p>Comedian Jay Leno hosts the 30th Carousel of Hope gala in Beverly Hills, California in this file photo from ctober 25, 2008. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>