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Saturday, April 19, 2014
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Published: 3/15/2010

'South Park' visits Tiger; Leno returns to 'Tonight Show' and the top of the ratings

Welcome to the Blade blog Culture Shock, a three-times-a-week riff by Pop Culture Editor Kirk Baird on pop culture news, events, and trends. The blog will appear Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings here, with the odd night or off-day posting if something is merited.

Before things get crazy again with the weekly Crystal Bowersox report, I wanted to throw out a coupla things with some brief comments.

One, South Park is tackling the Tiger Woods scandal Wednesday night for the premiere of its 14th season. If anything deserves a scathing South Park parody, it's Woods' sexual escapades and subsequent fall out. Even if you haven't tuned in to the Comedy Central show in a while, Wednesday's episode is a must-DVR event. Seriously.

Two, Jay Leno's back on top. I was having a conversation the other day with a coworker about Leno's ratings. I'd read that the talk-show host did very well in the Nielsens for his first night back at The Tonight Show. My coworker seemed surprised by this. I told him I initially was too; I didn't think viewers would be so quick to follow Leno back to 11:30 p.m. But after I saw the Nielsens, the numbers made sense to me. Why wouldn't his fans follow him back? They obviously hated Conan O'Brien, and they didn't flock to David Letterman, either.

While they clearly abandoned Leno in prime time -- or, at best, his Tonight Show fans tuned in and no one else did -- they were desperate to have something to watch again at 11:30. With Leno back, those viewers are back as well. While Leno's numbers aren't what they were when he first left The Tonight Show, I expect them to creep back to close to where they once were.

As we've seen over and over again, viewers have short memories and long loyalties.

What I'm waiting for is the return of O'Brien to muddy up the late-night waters. I don't think he's going to Fox -- the financial investment by the network and its affiliates will be too great, unless O'Brien starts at 11 p.m. and competes against local news. Good luck with that.

But, I can see him going to a cable network. Maybe a TNT, Spike, or Comedy Central. Problem with the latter is the popular shows the network already has entrenched between 11 p.m. and midnight, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report. If those shows stay where they are, that would mean O'Brien goes to midnight, which we know he doesn't want to do anymore, or, the other option, to the 10-11 p.m. slot, which was a disaster for Leno on NBC.

The late-night drama continues ...

Agree or disagree with a posting? Lemme know. Have a topic or suggestion? Lemme know that, too. Send an e-mail to kbaird@theblade.com

or call 419-724-6734.

LINK: For all of Kirk Baird's Culture Shock riffs



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