For about a week now I’ve been posting the odd video here and there with regard to the whole Conan O’brien/Jay Leno late night debacle. I’m not even going to begin to explain the whole thing because you’d literally have to be living under a rock to not be up to speed on most if not all of the details.
Things could change between the time I’m writing this (8:30pm Tuesday night) and when you read this sometime on Wednesday, but it looks like Conan O’brien will be giving up his spot on The Tonight Show, a spot that Jay Leno will now step back into with the demise of his 10pm NBC show. It seems to be a bum deal for Conan, whose ratings have admittedly trailed David Letterman’s in the 11:30pm time slot, but who has only been on the air for 7 months.
Anyway, you don’t need me to go and recount all this for you. The thing that’s on my mind really is why I’ve been so immersed in this recent Late Night war. Maybe it’s because I was too young back in the early 90’s when Leno and Letterman had all of their behind the scenes issues when NBC was choosing Johnny Carson’s replacement. Maybe it’s because I genuinely like Conan O’brien, even though I haven’t watched his run on the current Tonight Show (I’m fast asleep at that point). Perhaps it’s because I’m so amazed at how a seemingly affable guy like Jay Leno could in the span of a week become perceived as a total douchebag by the media and his rapidly depleting fan base. Or maybe it’s simply fascinating seeing someone stand up to big corporate culture when they feel they’re being treated poorly.
No matter what the reasons, I stand firmly on the side of Conan O’brien, who could very well be better off getting off the sinking ship that appears to be NBC. Can you believe that the networks biggest prime time show is actually The Biggest Loser???? This was the network that gave us The Cosby Show, Family Ties, Seinfeld, Friends, ER, Night Court, The West Wing, and Empty Nest. That’s right, Empty Nest! Which was a spin off from Golden Girls, which was awesome!
And I didn’t even mention 227!I don’t see anyone eagerly anticipating Heroes every week, which is arguably the only decent drama the network has put out in the last few years, and even that one has gone down the tubes. So maybe Conan will be better off at another network or even a cable channel, where he won’t have suits telling him how to appeal to the lowest common denominator, something he would never be able to do unless he really wanted to sell his soul.
Even as he wheels and deals with NBC to get out of his contract, Conan seems set on doing right by the staff who he is pretty much putting out of their jobs. That could be the most contentious part of his decision to not be a part of a later starting tonight show since so many members of his staff followed him from New York to California. Hopefully all those people will be taken care of and join Conan in his future endeavours.
Whatever the case, this really has been the most fascinating fight hasn’t it? It leaves me wondering what will happen when it comes time for Jimmy Fallon to take over the Tonight Show. Oh and for the record, I’d put down a few bucks that the night Leno returns to The Tonight Show, Conan is Letterman’s special guest.