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Curtains for prime time's 'Jay Leno Show'?

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February is a good time to make the change back, Mr. Thompson says. The Winter Olympics will give NBC the scheduling breather it needs to make adjustments.

Current speculation, fueled by the TMZ entertainment website, suggests that NBC will use the anticipated audience boost from the Olympics coverage to re-launch Leno at 11:35 p.m., while it offers Conan O’Brien, the current “Tonight Show” host, a new slot at 12:05 a.m., with Jimmy Fallon following at 1:05 a.m None of the hosts has indicated any plans, as of yet.

NBC originally moved Leno to the 10 p.m. slot to save money (the variety show costs one-third of a drama to produce), and to keep him from jumping ship when Conan O’Brien took over the "Tonight Show."

A dying format?

All this tinkering is little more than juggling deck chairs on a sinking ship, says Paul Levinson, a professor of media studies at Fordham University, New York and author of “New New Media.”

“The late-night talk show is a dying format,” Mr. Levinson says, adding that while the talk show structure that began back in the 1950s with host Dave Garroway, has served network television well through the 20th century, it’s time is over.

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