Leno moving to prime time

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Jay Leno won’t be leaving NBC when Conan O’Brien takes over the “Tonight Show.” Instead, the Peacock net has cut a new deal with Leno which will give him a one-hour daily show Monday-through-Friday at 10:00 pm. The surprise move was first reported by the New York Times on its website last evening. Just a few hours earlier NBC Universal President and CEO Jeff Zucker told a UBS investors conference in New York that the network was looking at options to reduce the number of hours it had to program each week. Stripping a new Leno talk show in primetime five days a week would reduce the number of primetime hours the network has to fill with series programming to 17 from the current 22. The talk show format would be considerably cheaper to produce for primetime than either scripted series or even reality programming. O’Brien had been scheduled to take over “Tonight” in May 2010. It appears that may be moved up so that Leno can launch his primetime show in the Fall of 2009.