Obama, Leno one for books


Thursday's telecast of "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno," featuring a guest appearance by President Obama, earned the biggest "Tonight" rating in the overnights since a special tribute to Johnny Carson four years ago. "Tonight" drew a 11.2 metered-market household rating, matching its highest overnight number in nearly 11 years. The last time "Tonight" pulled a larger rating was after the finale of "Seinfeld" in 1998. The boost also helped "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" (3.9), which had its best number yet. NBC co-chair Ben Silverman spoke about Leno's ratings success, the impact of Obama on broadcast TV and the fate of the network's struggling new drama "Kings."

Ben Silverman: It's just awesome. Jay Leno is so strong and did such a great job, and the show was so accessible and broad. (Thursday) night builds on the momentum he's had this year. Jay and his humanity are coming through.

Silverman: I don't want to be overly confident. … We've had enough disappointment to know not to be overly confident. But I've analyzed this a million different ways, and I feel we're being validated in the choices we've made. I think this is going to pay off. I think Leno in the fall is going to be a show where anything can happen and any person can be on it.

Silverman: That made me nuts, too. I watched it live, and to see the interview and then 90 minutes later to have it as an issue you're dealing with, when, there in the moment, you wouldn't even notice it.

Silverman: Barack Obama knows how to market himself better than anybody in the history of marketing. And he's using the media the way we use and advertisers use the media, and its effect is impressive. It's not helping us get any normal rhythm this year. It hurt the fall. I think it hurt "Chuck" — we had the huge 3-D episode, its highest rating in the year, then it was pre-empted the next Monday with no notice. But he's our president, and whatever he needs, we are going to do.

Silverman: I'm hoping, because intent (to view) went up and awareness went up after it aired. Clearly, people responded to it, and it grew over its two hours. That gives me some hope. It's just hard to launch things that are not obvious. We may get nailed for it, but I'm proud of the show, and we need to keep taking chances like that. (partialdiff)
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