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Leno: Ratings down

Posted by Matthew Gilbert  September 3, 2010 09:24 AM

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Looks like "The Tonight Show" is having a bad summer, as Jay Leno's ratings have fallen "in the demo" -- the all-important advertiser-loving 18-49 demographic. Indeed, Leno's 18-49 ratings are 23 percent lower this summer than they were when Conan O'Brien was hosting the show last year.

Furthermore, according to the Hollywood Reporter, "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" is drawing the worst summer "Tonight Show" ratings on record, although that kind of low has become common on broadcast TV these days. Leno is still beating Letterman, though -- things aren't that bad...!

Meanwhile, Letterman is still taking shots at Leno, which you can see in this clip at Gawker. "Leno has more cars than Hertz," he said last night, lapsing into his unflattering Leno imitation to add, "'I'm just a regular guy.' Yeah, a regular guy with 600 cars. Explain that." Whatever. Watching Letterman ragging on Leno at this point is just too lame -- and believe me, I'm no Leno fan. Letterman brings too much angry affect to his Leno knocks at this point, and the jokes themselves are pretty stale -- "more cars than Hertz," yawn.

Earlier this year, I wrote a story for the Sunday Globe called "Late Night Talk Shows Aren't Worth the Fight," about how  "the late-night war of 2010 is about some of the more dated, lax, and artificial material that makes its way onto the small screen. When you take away the sensational drama [of Leno vs. Conan] ... all that’s left is an old TV genre in need of renascence. Late night could really use a new dawn." I still feel that late-night TV is ripe for experimentation, for pushing the advances made in the '00s by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert into some new territory.

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Katie McLeod is Boston.com's features editor.

Rachel Raczka is a producer for Lifestyle and Arts & Entertainment at Boston.com.

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Michael Brodeur is the assistant arts editor for the Boston Globe, covering pop music, TV, and nightlife.

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