By now you’ve heard Conan O’Brien has thrown down the gauntlet to NBC. Either they leave The Tonight Show in its original time slot of 11:35 PM EST (after the late local news), or he leaves the show. Here is Conan’s statement. It’s funny, honest, and classy. That’s Conan for you.
He seemed willing to take this mess in stride, poking fun at his tenuous position and basically behaving like any person faced with an imminent and inevitable sacking that is damn well undeserved. He is not taking this fuckery lying down. His opening monologues the last few nights have been scathing, if delivered with a smile. And he’s been sure to let you know where is problem lies–with NBC and Jay Leno, whose unwillingness to let go has caused most of this debacle.
Leno is the problem here. I’ve never loved him or his stint as host of The Tonight Show, instead I prefer Letterman, or better, I always liked to watch Conan on Late Night. I was excited several years ago to hear that Conan would be taking over The Tonight Show come 2009, but when NBC announced their plans to give Leno a nightly show in primetime last year, the warning bells went off. It was a bad move from the beginning. If Leno wasn’t ready to let go of his hosting gig, NBC shouldn’t have forced him out of it. And it’s Leno’s show that failed. It debuted strong with over 11 million viewers, but the second-episode drop was over 40% and it never recovered. Average viewers leading up to its official demise was about 5.5 million. Poor.
NBC’s decision to push back Johnny Carson’s time slot to 12:05 AM EST to allow Leno a 30-minute late show basically says NBC would rather live up Leno’s ass than respect a television institution and the man who rightly inherited its throne through years of hard work and patience. Just ax Leno. He’s the one who tanked. Jay Leno is not “too big to fail”. He’s a comedian who lost his audience. Shit happens.
Fox, ABC—heck, even one of you cable networks—give Conan some money and some time and watch him wrought brilliant revenge on NBC and Leno. If this is what he does when he’s still *on* NBC, can you imagine what he’ll say when he’s *off*?
Good night for now, Conan. I know I’ll see you again soon.