NBC has announced layoffs for two dozen "Tonight Show" employees and has reportedly slashed the salary of host Jay Leno by millions of dollars to avoid steeper staff cuts at the show.
The network, which is set to begin airing Education Nation in late September, a "seminar" of education reform that promotes, among other things, value-added measurements of teacher effectiveness based upon test scores for conducting education cutbacks and layoffs, has decided to use laugh-added measurements of the "Tonight Show" staff to see which members will be laid off first.
"Tonight Show" staff members deemed to be adding fewer laughs to the show this year as compared to last year will be let go first.
Previously employee seniority was used to conduct layoffs and cuts at the network, but a spokesman for Comcast Corp, the parent of NBC/Universal, said the cable company had added this "sophisticated tool" built by a cadre of geniuses at Microsoft, the Gates Foundation, and Monsanto to measure how many laughs each employee is adding to the broadcast and can now say with almost exact certitude which employees are the most valuable laugh-wise and which are the least valuable.
The laugh-added measurements have a median margin of error of 52%, a maximum margin of error so high even Carnac couldn't get them right, but Comcast Corp. believes this is the way to conduct employee cuts for the future and says other NBC shows should expect to see layoffs conducted this way too.
Despite high ratings for the just-aired Olympics, the network is hemorrhaging advertising dollars and expects to make cuts at every program on NBC.
The only NBC show Comcast is sparing from layoffs is the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams.
One anonymous source at Comcast told the Associated Press, "We've used the laugh-added measurement tool on all our shows, including the Nightly News, and frankly, that show is the funniest thing on the network."
Tonight Show employees will be informed of their layoffs tomorrow when they return to work. NBC has decided to bring in former Washington D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee to conduct the layoffs and will tape each for airing during Education Nation next month.
Said the anonymous Comcast source, "Comcast thinks this is a teachable moment that can be used to show how laugh-added and value-added are excellent tools for seeing which employees are valuable and which aren't. And bringing in Michelle Rhee to do the layoffs - well, that was a no-brainer. She really gets off on this kind of thing...especially if somebody cries!"