Ace Washington Post TV columnist Lisa de Moraes has a brilliant story about the ramifications of NBC's sudden change in prime time programming.
It all started on Thursday when NBC Universal entertainment chairman Jeff Gaspin said his network would no longer program to profit margins.
And that could spell the end of Jay Leno's faltering prime time talk show.
Simply stated (according to Gaspin): "The goal...is to put the best possible programs we can on the air."
NBC's Leno strategy called for the former Tonight Show to host the faltering 10 p.m. lineup because NBC's costly drama series just were not making it in the ratings.
The peacock proud network figured a show as cheap as Leno could still make a profit even when finishing third or even fourth on a competitive prime time night.
But NBC bosses are hating the idea of a fourth place finish.
In fact Leno is getting creamed during the baseball playoffs. On other nights he fares just as poorly.
And NBC affiliates are hollering about the low ratings they're pulling in which impact on their 11 p.m. local newscasts.
Only last week NBC dropped its proposed second season of the low rated police series Southland although six hour episodes had already been shot.
The equally low rated but inexpensive Dateline NBC will instead continue in the Friday night slot.
NBC sources say Leno will continue for this season because NBC needs five hour dramas to fill the 10 p.m. slot.
But what about September 2010. What will happen to Jay then?