Spike Feresten's Dream: Jay Leno Moves to Fox

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Cover image for  article: Spike Feresten's Dream: Jay Leno Moves to Fox

When 8,000 Americans were surveyed for the JackMyers Emotional Connections Research Study on Late Night Television (2007), Fox's Talkshow with Spike Feresten was among the top rated Late Night shows across five Emotional Connections measures (based on adults 18 to 49 in multi-channel home). An impressive 47 percent of Talkshow with Spike Feresten viewers say they are likely to "consider advertising on these shows a recommendation and are more likely to consider purchasing products and/or services being offered," a much higher percentage than even Jimmy Kimmel Live or Late Show with David Letterman.

I recently spoke with Spike Feresten to get his take on why fans are so emotionally connected to the show. Fan interactivity and no-frills comedy attract loyal fans.

"The fans really respond to the comedy on the show and have really responded well to me. I'm not sure why that is. It's such a mysterious process - television. But they seem to be able to get behind the idea of an underdog late night talk show that makes them laugh on a consistent basis and isn't trying so hard to be big. We do our thing on Saturday nights and we're kind of laid back about it and I think they sense that and they're happy to go for the ride" said Feresten.

When asked what he felt about the show expanding to 60 minutes or moving to a more desirable timeslot (Talkshow currently airs on Saturdays at midnight), Spike responded, "Right now, we're very content toiling away in the middle of nowhere on Saturday nights for our crazy, drunken fans."

These "crazy, drunken fans" are big MySpace users as well. Fox created a MySpace page during Talkshow's first season and turned over control to Feresten during the show's second season. He noted, "I think they [Fox] were worried I might go nuts on it and get them in trouble but somewhere at the beginning of the second season, myself and staff members were able to interact directly with the fans." He went on to say being able to interact directly with fans has been invaluable in learning what fans love and what they hate. It turns out they love a segment on the show called Comedy for Stoners. They hate the Jonas Brothers, urging Feresten to take down some ironic posters featured in the background of one of his MySpace video blogs.

"I think back to when I was young and I was watching Saturday Night Live. If I could have emailed or messaged John Belushi or Phil Hartman, it would have been such a thrill to interact with them. So I really try to be conscientious about getting back to every single message people send to me," said Feresten.

Fan opinions aside, I asked Feresten his own feelings on the show. He shared that his dream guest would be Jay Leno so that he could present an offer from Fox to lure Leno to the network with an 11:30 p.m. slot. Feresten said, "I'm hoping if I convince Jay, they [Fox] will be very grateful and give me a 12:30 spot. We'll see." The upcoming third season will have some new features - a monologue and more musical guests. When asked whom Feresten would most want to perform on the show, he says Coldplay, Kanye West and Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters.

Feresten's favorite sketch is Idiot Paparazzi, which features real-life paparazzi hounding ordinary people who might bear a slight resemblance to an actual celebrity. It turns out the paparazzi get recognized more often than Feresten himself. They're also quite established paparazzi. "They've taken pictures you know," said Feresten. "One of the guys, Dano, you remember when Britney Spears went nuts with an umbrella? That was Dano's car. He owns the car and the umbrella."

Talkshow with Spike Feresten premieres its third season on Fox this Saturday at 12 midnight, following the season premiere of MADtv.

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