You know what’s Crazy? I’ll tell you what’s crazy.
The battle between Jay Leno in Prime Time and Conan O’Brien at the Tonight Show.
It’s become like anchor roulette where Conan and Jay and Jimmy are comedic bullets, loaded into a broadcasting revolver and then put to the viewer’s temple.
The network is like a clown car that has stopped in the center ring of a public spectacle. One by one, idiotic executives exit waving non-binding contracts and looking to pull the comedic trigger.
Conan and Jay and Jimmy and Carson. One or more of these late night hosts has to go.
In case you’ve been in the zero gravity bathroom of the International Space Station for the last few days, here’s the latest.
The red headed comedian with a propensity for breaking into an Irish Brogue, released a statement Tuesday saying that he no longer wanted to be the host of “The Tonight Show” on NBC if it appeared at 12:05 a.m.
As you undoubtedly know, Conan took over for Jay Leno as host of the tonight show about 7 months ago. He joked Tuesday night, ever since he was a child, he dreamed of taking over the Tonight Show…(pause)…for 7 months!
The audience yucked it up. Why not? It’s not their lives at stake. They didn’t move their entire production staff and their families from NYC to LA LA Land to put on a tv show.
As part of an innovative and risky master plan, the suits moved Leno from the Tonight Show to prime time, 5 days a week. It was here that he commanded an hour of live entertainment that created audience flow in to late night news programming. It was suppose to be cheap to produce, thus creating windfall profits.
Apparently that made sense at the time, but affiliates complained Leno’s numbers sucked and NBC panicked.
Cue the name calling and fire sale mentality!
And now it’s as if someone told Conan O’Brien to sit down, and then quickly pulled the chair out from underneath him.
What if Johnny Carson had only been given 7 months? Would there even be an institution as venerable as the Tonight Show?
With their hair on fire and in between power lunches the suits ruminated over the plausibilities. What to do? What to do?
What if we move Leno from prime time back to his original spot, the Tonight Show? Could that work?
But what about O’Brien? they ponder over brie and salmon pate. We moved him and his entire staff from New York to take over the Tonight Show. He has waited patiently for five years. And Jimmy Fallon is now doing his old show in New York City. What about them?
The clown-like executives sweated through their dress shirts creating options where options didn’t seem to exist. “OK, give Leno 1/2 an hour and then give Conan the next hour.”
Are chimps running the programming over there? Is everyone shooting tequila and slamming amphetamines?
And what about Jimmy Fallon? Do you scrap his show? I don’t even want to ask about Carson Daily. Just put his show on at 3am where he can compete against infomercials featuring the sham-wow.
Well that idea was as well received as Presidential candidate Howard Dean screaming we are GOING TO WIN like a school girl.
Conan told the network to take their 1/2 an hour idea and shove it where the commercials don’t shine.
“I sincerely believe that delaying the ‘Tonight Show’ into the next day to accommodate another comedy program will seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting. ‘The Tonight Show’ at 12:05 simply isn’t the ‘Tonight Show.’”
NBC wanted more drama at 10pm and now they got it. Both Leno and Conan and Jimmy Fallon are peppering their monologues with derogatory comedy about NBC’s serious programming inadequacies.
What will they do? Well more than likely they will lose Conan to another network and put Jay Leno back at 11:35 pm where he will be unmerciful in his comic assault against the Peacock. He will constantly badger and blister his NBC employers with explosive assaults of derogatory humor that they will not like but be unable to stop.
In the meantime, Big Red will leave NBC. He has all ready stated that he’s out next Friday.
Some have said that this is the biggest debacle in broadcast history. I don’t know about that, but whoever is in charge now, should place his neck on the chopping block and take the hit.
If you care to read the well constructed letter to the world written by Mr. O’Brien, here it is in its entirety:
People of Earth:
In the last few days, I’ve been getting a lot of sympathy calls, and I want to start by making it clear that no one should waste a second feeling sorry for me. For 17 years, I’ve been getting paid to do what I love most and, in a world with real problems, I’ve been absurdly lucky. That said, I’ve been suddenly put in a very public predicament and my bosses are demanding an immediate decision.
Six years ago, I signed a contract with NBC to take over “The Tonight Show” in June of 2009. Like a lot of us, I grew up watching Johnny Carson every night and the chance to one day sit in that chair has meant everything to me. I worked long and hard to get that opportunity, passed up far more lucrative offers, and since 2004, I have spent literally hundreds of hours thinking of ways to extend the franchise long into the future. It was my mistaken belief that, like my predecessor, I would have the benefit of some time and, just as important, some degree of ratings support from the prime-time schedule. Building a lasting audience at 11:30 is impossible without both.
But sadly, we were never given that chance. After only seven months, with my “Tonight Show” in its infancy, NBC has decided to react to their terrible difficulties in prime time by making a change in their long-established late night schedule.
Last Thursday, NBC executives told me they intended to move the “Tonight Show” to 12:05 to accommodate the “Jay Leno Show” at 11:35. For 60 years, the “Tonight Show” has aired immediately following the late local news. I sincerely believe that delaying the “Tonight Show” into the next day to accommodate another comedy program will seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting. The “Tonight Show” at 12:05 simply isn’t the “Tonight Show.”
Also, if I accept this move I will be knocking the “Late Night” show, which I inherited from David Letterman and passed on to Jimmy Fallon, out of its long-held time slot. That would hurt the other NBC franchise that I love, and it would be unfair to Jimmy.
So it has come to this: I cannot express in words how much I enjoy hosting this program and what an enormous personal disappointment it is for me to consider losing it. My staff and I have worked unbelievably hard, and we are very proud of our contribution to the legacy of “The Tonight Show.” But I cannot participate in what I honestly believe is its destruction. Some people will make the argument that with DVRs and the Internet, a time slot doesn’t matter. But with the “Tonight Show,” I believe nothing could matter more.
There has been speculation about my going to another network but, to set the record straight, I currently have no other offer and honestly have no idea what happens next. My hope is that NBC and I can resolve this quickly so that my staff, crew, and I can do a show we can be proud of, for a company that values our work.
Have a great day and, for the record, I am truly sorry about my hair; it’s always been that way.