Jerry Seinfeld says NBC's move to put Jay Leno at 10, a move the network confirmed Jan. 10 it is reversing, was the "right idea at the wrong time."
Seinfeld drew a comparison between the Leno experiment and the AOL-Time Warner deal. "Everyone goes, ‘What a horribly horrible deal that was.' And it wasn't. It was just bad timing," Seinfeld said during an appearance at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena to promote his new NBC series The Marriage Ref.
He suggested that if that deal was done today, and Google was swapped in for AOL, the pact would be received entirely differently. "It was the right idea at the right time. I think this was the right idea at the wrong time. I'm proud of NBC for trying to do something different. That's just showbiz and you've got to try things."
When asked whether he would stay at NBC if he was in Conan O'Brien's shoes--that is, being asked to move his show to 12:05 a.m. after having the plum 11:35 p.m. slot--Seinfeld put the onus of The Tonight Show's ratings performance on O'Brien. "I don't think anybody's done anything to Conan," Seinfeld said. "What did the network do to him? I don't think anybody's preventing anyone from watching Conan."
"You gotta hit the ball," Seinfeld said. "They can't hit the ball for you. They can only give you the bat."
Seinfeld will be among the celebrity guests on the preview episode of The Marriage Ref, which NBC has slated to follow the closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics Feb. 28. Alec Baldwin, Tina Fey, Charles Barkley and Larry David will also appear on the series, which will premiere in its regular Sundays at 8 time slot March 14.