I don't think NBC has the guts to fire Leno:
ABC previously had stated they would cancel Nightline
and push Jimmy Kimmel Live
back to 12:35 AM if they had gotten Leno, and I think would make an immediate push to get Leno if NBC did let him go.
What I think may wind up happening is this:
NBC gives local stations 10:00-10:30 PM ET-PT/9:00-9:30 PM CT-MT for local news.
Leno goes to 10:30 PM ET-PT/9:30 PM CT-MT and remains one hour.
Conan and Jimmy Fallon remain as is.
That looks like a compromise since then, NBC stations get to go with their local news an hour earlier, and given the fact that many people get up earlier than ever may be an advantage for NBC stations.Edited to add:
Another advantage of this is for half the year, NBC could cut their late-night shows back to four nights a week (Monday-Thursday) and work out deals with the Pac-10 and Mountain West Conferences for a regional Friday Night Game of the Week
telecast of College Football in the fall and College Basketball in the Winter months that would be after late local news in the east, starting at 10:30 PM ET/7:30 PM PT (and on those Fridays, prime time programming in the west airing early from 5:30-7:30 PM PT during football season and during basketball season, one prime time show airing before basketball and one after basketball), then in March, April and into May even having an NHL game on Friday nights in the 10:30 PM ET/7:30 PM PT slot. That can conceivably become a late-night sports time slot for NBC and bring in viewers who won't watch the late-night shows, but will come over to watch sports.
Edited by Wallyhorse, Jan 7, 2010 @ 8:43 PM.