Friday, January 8, 2010

Be careful what you wish for...

When NBC announced back in September, 2004 that Conan O'Brian would take over The Tonight Show in six years time, I thought to myself that it was a shame that we wouldn't get a repeat of the 1992 talk-show wars (among the dead - Arsenio Hall and Chevy Chase). Little did I know that NBC could be trusted to get themselves into an even bigger pickle this time around. But, it must be said, this astounding mess isn't Jay Leno's fault and it certainly isn't Conan O'Brian's fault. Regardless of what you may think of Leno, he's not the villain here. I'd imagine that most of us would have a tough time turning down a daily 10pm hour-long talk show. It was NBC that was so afraid to lose Leno to a rival network that they pretty much cannibalized their own network to do it. And it was NBC that announced back in 2004 that Leno would step down from The Tonight Show, without even bothering to inquire whether Leno would be ready to retire or whether the show would even need a replacement host in five-years time.


Conan O'Brian is basically caught in the middle of this insanity, apparently being given the choice of ceding the 11:35pm timeslot (and thus again be regulated to second talk-show host in the late-night lineup), or get fired from his dream job because his network made a terrible business and artistic decision regarding his predecessor. Moving Conan to the midnight slot won't solve one of the bigger problems, as most big movie stars or TV stars would still prefer to be on an 11:35pm show versus one that starts at 12:05am. I have no idea how this mess will sort itself out, but once again, I'm astonished that we are basically having a Talk Show War II, one that is far uglier than the previous Great Talk Show War from 1992. It makes me want to read or re-watch The Late Shift. Ironically, it was NBC's attempt to prevent the problems of 1992 (Carson retiring without an heir apparent) that led to this current debacle. What an absolute disaster for all involved parties...

Scott Mendelson

3 comments:

Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist! said...

yes this is a mess, but I won't be sorry to see Leno go and be replaced by Conan...

Sean G said...

I agree, a disaster that could easily have been avoided. It's interesting to see it play out, but I really feel bad for Conan. And I don't see how this could work out well for Leno. I understand he has a fan base (not me) but his poor ratings at 10 don't really indicate he'll regain his prominence if moved back to 11:30. It's like NBC broke a great thing and seems to think they can just keep moving pieces around and it'll suddenly be put back together.

I really enjoy Conan and have found his transition to Tonight to be somewhat awkward (I assume because of network pressures to tame him down) so I hope he comes out with a better deal in the end. Maybe cable or something... but either way, losing "The Tonight Show" (even if it's moved to 12) would be a real blow.

Sean G said...

I agree, a disaster that could easily have been avoided. It's interesting to see it play out, but I really feel bad for Conan. And I don't see how this could work out well for Leno. I understand he has a fan base (not me) but his poor ratings at 10 don't really indicate he'll regain his prominence if moved back to 11:30. It's like NBC broke a great thing and seems to think they can just keep moving pieces around and it'll suddenly be put back together.

I really enjoy Conan and have found his transition to Tonight to be somewhat awkward (I assume because of network pressures to tame him down) so I hope he comes out with a better deal in the end. Maybe cable or something... but either way, losing "The Tonight Show" (even if it's moved to 12) would be a real blow.

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