Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Latest on the NBC Late Night Drama

Conan O'Brien has released a statement.

Essentially, he won't be moving to 12:05 am, because it would damage the integrity of The Tonight Show. He also stated that he has not yet received an offer from another network, and doesn't know where to go to next. What a classy guy. Some have said he could stay quiet and take his huge pay cheque but he recognizes that some things are more important than money. By releasing this statement and taking the stance he has, he's telling NBC that he won't tolerate being pushed around. He's also attempting to protect The Tonight Show, which is very admirable. I agree with him when he says that moving it to 12:05 am will be irreparably damaging.

This leaves NBC in a difficult position. Conan has stood his ground (as he should be), and NBC essentially has two options: Jay Leno or Conan. I recognize that I'm biased, but going with anyone but Conan would be unbelievably stupid. Leno is older, had The Tonight Show for 17 years, and is probably fairly close to retirement. NBC needs to have faith in their new host, instead of trying to hold onto the past. Trying to keep Leno by giving him The Jay Leno Show was a huge mistake. Now that it has failed, they have two people to try to satisfy, and try as they might, they won't be able to make both happy, and won't be able to retain both. Even if they do decide to let go of Leno, Conan's confidence in NBC will be shaken. Why should he want to stay on a network that kept the "old guy" around? It's like they were just waiting for Conan to fail, so they kept his predecessor in their back pocket.

I wish Leno had half the class Conan does. Give someone else a chance at hosting, and retire gracefully. Go back to performing stand-up full time. From what I gather, Leno seems to be a workaholic, and his entire "identity" is likely attached to his work. But he can do other work until he is ready to retire. I'll bet he won't even leave the spotlight, even if he is not on television anymore.

I'm not worried about Conan. He's well respected and he'll find work somewhere. But for selfish reasons, I'd be rather upset if he didn't find another television gig. I love watching him. I always told myself that, after I graduate, I'd go to a taping of The Tonight Show. I definitely won't be if he's not the host anymore, but whatever he is doing after I graduate, you can bet I'll be there in the audience at some point.

NBC should be looking at Twitter though. Under the trending topics, this drama has almost all of them. Most specifically have to do with Conan (or "Team Conan"). From what I've read online, most people are supporting Conan. I just can't get over the idiocy of this network. They're living in the past, instead of looking to the future. And Conan didn't get the time he deserved to make his incarnation of The Tonight Show a complete hit. He was set up to fail.


  1. Letterman did the same thing in his day. How sad that it had to come at the expense of a whole staff moving to California!

  2. Yeah, Letterman got the better deal in that sense, because he didn't uproot his staff, only to have to move 7 months later. Part of me hopes that NBC will decide to let go of Jay, but I'm not optimistic. It's all rumour now, but apparently NBC might be looking for guest hosts for "The Tonight Show":


  3. Guest hosts? It sounds like a tactic to make Conan think that NBC is going to play hardball with him. Oh, boy.

  4. That's what I thought too. NBC looks really bad right now. There are rumours that Jay wants to leave as well, but I think his PR team came up with that to make him look better than he does right now. He's taking some serious fall out over this.

    I say give the show to Jay, and Conan can head off to FOX or Comedy Central or anywhere else he's wanted.