HOLLYWOOD — Jimmy Fallon’s “Tonight Show” debut pulled in an impressive 11.3 million viewers, and there’s no doubt he’ll succeed as the host for many years, but at what cost? There must be a better way to give successful people, at the top of their game, the gate.
It all started with Regis Philbin when ABC decided he should exit the show he created and made a success, first with “Regis and Kathie Lee” and then “Regis and Kelly,” even though it was a ratings leader. He didn’t want to leave and has moved on to other hosting duties. Dan Rather was put out to pasture by CBS on a trumped-up charge that was convenient for the network. Larry King was shown the door at CNN. He’s still hosting shows elsewhere. Jay Leno was fired because Conan O’Brien demanded Leno’s job or he wouldn’t resign his contract. Jay returned after eight months when Conan’s ratings dipped.
Sam Champion was exiled to The Weather Channel by “Good Morning America” after marrying his longtime boyfriend. Barbara Walters is leaving “The View,” which she co-produces and co-created, in May. Was she asked to leave? And Robin Roberts has come out officially, announcing she’s gay … will she be asked to leave next?
Which makes one wonder if Johnny Carson actually “retired” from the “Tonight Show” or if he was asked to leave to make way for the younger Jay Leno? Most of this began after Disney acquired ABC and Universal acquired NBC. Movie studios always ruled with an iron hand!
* * *
Happy to report that Angela Lansbury has gotten her wish: There will not be a reboot of “Murder She Wrote,” for now. When it was announced that Universal was planning to revive the show with Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer, Lansbury offered, “I think it’s a mistake to call it ”Murder She Wrote“ because that show will always be about Cabot Cove!” Don’t feel sorry for Octavia Spencer, though, she’s already been hired by Steven Spielberg for the new series “Red Band Society,” headed for ABC.
Hugh Jackman, returning to Broadway to star in “The River,” will detour to host the June 8 Tony Awards for the fourth time, tying him with Neil Patrick Harris as four-time hosts. Now that “How I Met Your Mother” is done, Harris also is headed back to Broadway in the “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” musical. Also taking on Broadway is Oprah Winfrey, who plans to star with Broadway vet Audra McDonald in “Night Mother.” One sure way to sell out would be to give stuff away, as she did on her TV show: “You get a car … you get a car … and you get a car!”
© 2014 King Features Synd., Inc.