“The Jay Leno Show” premiers with mixed reviews

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The premiere of NBC’s “The Jay Leno Show” last night brought in a whopping 17.7 million viewers, surpassing the number of viewers who watched the comedian’s final “Tonight Show” in the spring.  The debut ranked first among the much-coveted 18-49 age group, in addition to garnering the greatest number of overall viewers.

The show itself was a gamble on the part of NBC. Never before has there been a late-night type talk show in prime-time. The time slot presents a challenge. The 10PM slot is not late enough to be candid with jokes. It appears that there may have been some self-censoring there. Also, for the San Diego crowd at least, the Chargers game was finishing up as the show began. Viewers like me were forced to flip back and forth between plays, only to catch the Kanye interview and performance at the tail end of the night.

While Americans seemed to be interested in the new show, industry critics were underwhelmed, expressing disappointment in the numerous similarities between “The Jay Leno Show” and “The Tonight Show.”

Giving Leno the benefit of the doubt, let’s hope that he just needs some time to get into the swing of things. The vibe was a bit off, and some sketches were awkward. Also strange was the decision to put the classic Headlines bit as a show-closer. Needless to say, it worked out for us tuned into the Charger game.

The numbers of people who tuned it was decent, but many attribute the premiere’s ratings success to Kanye West’s first public interview since his VMA debacle (read more about it here).  Before his scheduled performance of “Run This Town” with Jay-Z and Rihanna, West sat down with Leno and publicly apologized to Taylor Swift a third time.

During his interview, West announced he was talking some time off to deal with the hurt from his mother’s death last year.  He again expressed remorse in interrupting Taylor Swift’s speech, saying “I’m just ashamed that my hurt caused…someone else’s hurt” and “I was just in the wrong.” Leno even went so far as to bring up the man’s deceased mother. It was a sad moment to watch, but Kanye got what was coming to him, I think.  After the short interview, West then resumed with his previous commitment to perform on the show.

The performance marked the first apppearance by Rihanna since the incidnet with Chris Brown. The song and performance was decent, but can I ask: what was with Rihanna’s outfit? What in the world was she wearing? Were those leather thigh high socks?


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