Is Jon Stewart JUST directing a movie -- or negotiating? @ 30 March 2013 10:47 AM

In general, many of TV's pillars are showing signs of cracks. It was news when Katie Couric anchored the CBS News, the results were mixed, now no one really talks much about the new guy.

Today is getting attention for backstage drama but not for the show, which is sagging.

As for late night, here's my view for all it's worth:

Jay is a poor little rich man. He's never really been accepted as the new Johnny, his early Tonight Show history was marred by Kushnik Kapers and no matter how he delivers and tries to be a company man, they don't seem to care.

I don't think he's terrible at interviews, depending on the guest. I skip over Jaywalking because too many of the people seem to be acting hopefuls who say dumb things to get on camera and be discovered.

My question for NBC is: what ever happened to the grand celebrationary sendoff? Johnny had a week of clips and tributes, Jay's going out angry.

Surely his departure this could have been managed in a more dignified, positive and ratings-getting way than Jay being treated like any old cog in a corporate wheel that's downsizing.

Fallon has a lot going for him -- impish nonthreatening looks, not-too-edgy, not-too-snarky humor, contemporary pop and rap and an easy, reassuring manner. I only wish he'd been given just a little more time to mature into the role. He tends to loooooove everyone and seems sincere about it, but sometimes the guest just isn't worthy.

The key thing that NBC is counting on with Fallon, beside ratings, is social networking. He has tweeted to fans from day one. The networks aren't sure where the new media is going but they want to be as ready as they can be. That's as big, or bigger, then demographics.

Conan can chug along as long as he wants in his little pond as the biggest fish. When he has a good guest, he does fine, but he's best in some sort of fringe, whether at 12:30 or on cable. He has a great band, though I miss Max.

Letterman still is a master of the craft, but he's not as passionate about pushing the envelope as he used to be. I respect the fact that he doesn't seem to be hiding his opinion about his guests.

His is the only show upon which I would watch an interview with Paris Hilton or a Kardashian because only Letterman can interview on two levels, seemingly deferential, yet letting his audience know just what he and they really think.

Ferguson is the most brilliant of all of them, an incredible mind so dynamic he can hardly get the words out fast enough. He is a curious blend of "vulgar lounge comic" as he puts it, sophisticated and intellectual ("Oh sure, another late night comic talking about Proust and existentialism!")

On the other hand, I love Secretariat and the vocal talents of the robot, but Ferguson sometimes falls into the repetition that affects Letterman. I miss "Murder She Wrote."

Not sure if Ferguson can -- or even wants -- Letterman's spot. He seems destined for other avenues for his talents. And he'd have to tone down the naughtiness.

That leaves the mystery of Jon Stewart. "The Daily Show" lacks some of its punch when there isn't an election, just like Saturday Night Live, but it still scores often. But is Jon Stewart REALLY leaving JUST to direct a film, or also to make some career negotiations?

Gotta wonder. His current show gives him a Peabody winning platform, but a bigger show and bigger audience (perhaps retaining some Daily Show elements) has got to be tempting.

My two cents.
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