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Experts: Talk show light on jobs

August 21, 2009|By Zain Shauk

BURBANK — “The Jay Leno Show” may do more harm than good for local economies, even as it prepares to begin rolling tape from a studio here next month, experts say.

Although the show will bring production jobs and spending to the area, it will simultaneously crowd out potential dramas from prime-time TV spots, costing the region hundreds of possible entertainment-industry jobs at a desperate time for labor markets, experts say.

NBC executives and host Jay Leno have insisted that the move will bring jobs and economic activity to the area by installing a nightly show at a Burbank studio, rather than in Universal City or elsewhere.


Leno argued that the show will be taking the spots of others that weren’t associated with many jobs in the first place.

“What they were going to put here is ‘Dateline’ in a strip five nights a week,” he said, explaining that the show will employ more workers and not replace dramas.

But in killing the potential for other weeknight shows, the move will complicate the challenges facing industry professionals, who play substantial roles in the Glendale and Burbank economies and have struggled to line up work as major motion picture and television studios increasingly locate their projects in other states and countries to cut down on costs, said Jack Kyser, chief economist for the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation.

NBC has slated the show to run at 10 p.m. weeknights, a slot once reserved for some of its “Must-see TV” juggernauts like “ER” and “Law & Order,” and currently home to one of the most-watched shows on television, CBS’ “The Mentalist.”

But instead of lining up dramas to challenge others at that time slot, in which it has struggled in recent years, NBC will put host Leno on the air five nights a week, an effort seen by many as a cost-cutting move, said Golan Ramras, manager of industry outreach and a career development advisor for the Los Angeles Film School.

“Essentially what they’re doing is taking what could be five viable nights of programming with five viable crews working on five viable shows and inserting in what’s the easy and cheap fix, where you have one crew, which does it consistently, and that crew will work and everybody else will be on the outside looking in,” Ramras said.

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