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April 13, 2009

Boston station changes gears on Leno

Leno NBC's rebel Boston affiliate will carry the network's new Jay Leno primetime talk show after all.

A week after WHDH-TV owner Ed Ansin started a firestorm by announcing his plans not to air the show because it "will be very adverse to our finances," he changed his mind.

It's an outcome that pretty much everybody seemed to predict -- except Ansin.

In a statement in which the station owner suddenly seemed to realize Leno is a local, Ansin says, "Upon further consideration, we have decided to telecast Jay Leno at 10 p.m. starting in September. Jay is from Andover, where I went to school. I enjoy his humor. We hope the new show is a big success."

There's nothing like NBC threatening to strip you of your network affiliation, legal warnings, plus a barrage of phone calls from angry local Leno fans to make an affiliate owner give his plan "further consideration" about carrying the show of your former schoolmate -- which is also an intriguing new connection. Was there playground bullying? Did Leno decline Ansin's Classmates.com invite?

After giving WHDH a double barrel of peacock wrath, the network struck a calming note Monday.

"We are very pleased that WHDH will carry Jay Leno's new primetime comedy show," said John Eck, president of NBC TV Network. "We look forward to working closely with the station on a successful launch in Boston of this show, featuring one of the most bankable stars in the business." -- Nellie Andreeva contributed to this report.

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