Leno Reveals More About His New Show


NEW YORK Jay Leno revealed more elements of his new prime-time show Wednesday, including the addition of comedians Liz Feldman and Mikey Day to his corespondents team.

Giving further examples of the type of comedy viewers can expect, Feldman recently shot a segment where she went to a retirement home and taught seniors how to use Twitter, while Day will have a celebrity news segment dubbed "JMZ." Previously announced corespondent D.L. Hughley is readying a segment where he tries to raise money for cash-strapped California.

Though the show's format will evolve, Leno plans to have musical guests once or twice a week. His "Green Car Challenge" racetrack, where celebrities will compete in a sponsored Ford Focus, will be done a few times per week.

Calling himself "the world's oldest quarterback," Leno gave a preview of his new set to reporters while maintaining a Zen attitude about his upcoming debut.

"If it doesn't work, it doesn't work," Leno said. "I'm still happy to play the game. We're not reinventing anything. We're just trying to give you a laugh before you go to bed. It's not some revolutionary thing."

Referencing NBC's touting of Conan O'Brien's ratings, Leno added, "I hope I'm not declared the 'King of Prime Time.' NBC's in fourth place. If it doesn't work, what happens now? They go back to Lipstick Jungle?"

Leno seemed a bit pained, however, by industry writers who've criticized him for being a part of the Peacock's plan to take scripted shows out of the 10 p.m. slot.

"There are more scripted dramas than any other time in history -- all these great shows on other networks," Leno said. "If we didn't do this, you'd have Dateline five nights a week."

Asked what sort of ratings he would consider a success, he said, "You know you're not doing well when they ask you to leave. And sometimes you're doing well and they ask you to leave anyway."

Only half joking, Leno said the real secret to late-night success is actually the wardrobe of the first guest to appear on the show. If an attractive actress has a pantsuit and her shirt buttoned to her neck, Leno said, the viewing audience will drop off the moment she walks out. If an actor is wearing a beard that makes him unrecognizable, ratings will likewise go down.

"I can walk to the Green Room and see what a celebrity is wearing and go, 'We're screwed,' " Leno said.

A large door allows Leno to drive a car directly onto the set, which is something he intends to do, albeit infrequently. The color scheme is rich and contemporary ("We're putting a PF Chang's here," Leno quipped).

One key element is a full embrace of Leno's love of classic automobiles. There are artful photos mounted in various spots along the frames of the stage of his car collection (usually close-ups of parts, such as a speedometer). The most prominent photo includes the "10" racing stripe from the show's upfront teaser clip, where the use of the number on a vehicle was used to drive home the message of Leno's new time period.

Above the stage of the new set are a couple of large ticker displays, which Leno quipped would be used to display the show's ratings minute-by-minute. A glass wall might aid some fourth-wall breaking shots, such as Leno being miked before going on stage.

Nielsen Business Media