Friday, January 22, 2010

Oh, Coco... they screw you so. Mmm...

Ya know, I am so emotionally invested in this Conan vs. Jay vs. NBC drama that it's kind of embarrassing. Like, I've been getting really worked up when the issue comes up and was so desperate to find out what was coming next. Well, it seems like Part 1 of the drama is now over. Before I comment, allow me to recap:

Five or so years ago Jay Leno announces he's gonna leave the Tonight Show and that Conan O'Brien is his appointed heir. Some suggest Jay's hand was forced, others suggest it is of his own accord. Who knows. (Or cares.) (Wait - I do!) So, Jay's retirement date is fast approaching but he's getting antsy. He doesn't really want to retire...he was just joking! But it's kinda late now.

So, the way I understand it (which could very well be wrong; I can't be bothered with "research") Jay seems to be hinting that he's not really retiring and will just move on elsewhere to do more late night stuffs. Now, NBC's wallets get nervous. Jay's been bringing in the big numbers (i.e. beating Dave Letterman) and they don't want him to Jaywalk ;) to some other network. So NBC, and their wallets, invite Jay to his own prime time spot at 10. Then, Jay says bye and Conan and Jimmy move into their respective late night spots. Not too long after, Jay moves back in to the neighborhood.

But there are issues: (ONE) Jay's numbers suck and he's making it hard for his neighbors, NBC's local news affiliates. I mean geez, you really gotta know you're bad off when you're scaring people away from watching the news. (TWO) Conan's not bringing in the amount of viewers that Jay was and *gasp* Letterman's beating him some (most?) nights. (THREE) Minor issue but, Jay pushed Law and Order: SVU out of it's regular spot and it's only part of their decline in viewers. So, to shorten the rest of this story: Jay's primetime experiment is canceled; he's offered Conana's 11:30 late night spot for a half hour show; NBC says, "Move down a couple houses, Conan;" Conan says, "Pssh, yeah right" and then we get to where we are now, asking "BUT WHAT ABOUT JIMMY???"


What we're all asking is, "Who the hell is in charge at NBC and how the hell did he get there??" (It's Jeff Zucker, btw, and I don't know how he got there. Go look it up!) The issues that have gotten me most about this whole thing are how there seems to a blatant disregard for promises and contracts and some sort of strange (and possibly misguided) attachment to Jay Leno.

I'm not even gonna get into the debate of who's funnier; I haven't watched either of them long enough to make a proper assessment and I'll laugh at pretty much anything so...yeah. Anyway, what I've taken offense to is NBC's royal screw over of Conan. They just seemed to have it in for him and don't seem to have any confidence in the guy. Yes, it's true that Conan wasn't bringing in the numbers that Jay was when he stepped down but, how could he? Word on the block is that Jay wasn't so hot his first couple years in late night. Not to mention, Conan himself struggled to gain an audience when he first took over Late Night and they didn't chuck him to the wolves then. Think about this Jeff Zuck & Co: Conan moved to an earlier spot losing some of that audience AND he lost some of Jay's devoted audience. I'd think he need more than 8 months to reestablish himself. NBC should get their historians on the books so they remember how this whole thing usually plays out.

Also, I thought a promise was a promise. Not just a promise, a legal contract at that. The Tonight Show shouldn't have been promised to Conan if Jay wasn't ready to retire. Though I expect this becomes a more complicated issue if it so happens that Jay was bullied into retirement. However, if that was the case, I'd imagine Jay would want to take his shtick elsewhere instead of sticking around with a network that was pushing him out of the door. Conan has made it apparent that hosting the Tonight Show was not only a dream of his but also an honor. The fact that it was promised to him and then so hastily snatched away doesn't quite sit right with me.

Another thing (no, this post will never end) is that, it seems to me, that NBC is just wasting a lot of money. Is it really cheaper to buy Conan out of his contract (and risk having to pay the difference for a possibly smaller future pay check) then to risk Jay Leno getting higher ratings on another channel? This is a genuine question though because me and my cynical mind have a feeling this is mostly about money. I mean, these are executives - American executives. I doubt that their main motivation isn't collecting large amounts of sweet, sweet moolah.

Lastly, what's NBC's obsession with Jay Leno? Does Jay have some incriminating photos of the execs? Do they owe him something? Is Jay Leno the epitome of late night hosts and they're really afraid of losing his neverending talent to some other network? I want to know what's so friggin' special about Jay Leno. Please, someone enlighten me.

I could go on and on. Well, just about how Jay Leno keeps trying so hard to play the victimized good-guy but, I'll leave it here for now; I think you get the point. I don't really feel bad for Conan; he's walking away with 30some million dollars so, I think he'll be alright. But I do feel for him. It sucks when you don't even get a year to prove you can do your job. I also admire how he's carried himself through this whole thing: his admirable letter, his concern for poor ol' Jimmy, his concern for his crew's well-being and his general love & respect for the Tonight Show. It'll be interesting to see how everything turns out and where everyone ends up in a year.

*shrug* We'll see.


P.S. - Oh yeah, BUT WHAT ABOUT CARSON?????

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