I've finally glimpsed the future. And it's Jay Leno as Larry King.
Monday night Jay Leno made a graceful bow as the new 10 p.m. host of a revamped Tonight Show (on both NBC and citytv).
The sole difference: The Jay Leno Show comes on 90 minutes earlier than its old timeslot as NBC fights for its very existence.
NBC's slate of 10 p.m. hour dramas bombed out and the peacock proud network needed something cheaper to toss into the mix.
By dumping its expensive, quality dramas at 10 NBC is acknowledging that it's a new TV universe out there.
No longer do the Big Three (NBC, CBS, ABC) rule the ratings waves. In the old world the Top Ten Show would be something like The Beverly Hillbillies commanding the allegiance of 60 million fans a week.
Leno had three months to prepare for his new show and there were no major bloopers. But he can't get such great guests every week.
The set looked much like his old show. The monologue was about the same --not as provocative as a Letterman might have been.
Leno got old pal Jerry Seinfeld as first star guest who was relaxed and funny. There was a reasonably funny sequence of comic Dan Finnerty warbling away in a car wash. Funny headlines was back.
And then out came Kanye West who almost sobbed when Leno mentioned his mother. And then it hit me.
If Leno gets that calibre of headline provoking guests then he'll be taking over from Larry King. And we'll be watching.
Just as long as there isn't a new episode of CSI: Miami over on CBS that night Leno could do very nicely indeed.
But on vastly competitive nights this fall and winter I'm wondering what rating Leno will be getting.
And there's one other hazard looming out there. It's You Tube. I've just rewatched the Kanye West bits on You Tube and that's what a lot of fans will be doing.
There's nothing to prevent dedicate bloggers from plopping the best Leno bits on You Tube so we can all watch the highlights and still catch our favorite scripted dramas at 10?