Posts Tagged ‘Jay Leno’

Monday Medley

What we read while Aaron Craft took a “charge”… 

Monday Medley

What we read while preemptively forgetting old acquaintances…

Monday Medley

What we read while eating a variety of fried foods in Rick Parry’s tent…

Monday Medley

What we read while fleeing the Metrodome…

The War for Late Night: Smiling Politely Towards Disaster

Anyone who picks up Bill Carter’s new book about last January’s late night TV debacle—The War for Late Night: When Leno Went Early and Television Went Crazy—looking for a villain is destined to be disappointed. This is not for lack of effort. The book is impressively comprehensive about NBC’s decision to move Jay Leno from The Tonight Show to primetime and back again and the disaster that followed. Carter gives detailed histories of and various perspectives on all the major players involved—Leno, Conan, Jeff Zucker, David Letterman, Jeff Gaspin, etc.—but in the end nobody comes off as an evil monster responsible for the train wreck. Instead, we get a fascinating example of how a bunch of people all acting with the best intentions can lead to the worst possible outcome.

“If they’d come in and shot everybody—I mean, it would have been people murdered. But at least it would have been a two-day story. I mean, yes, NBC could not have handled it worse, from 2004 onward.” —Jay Leno Continue reading

The Return of Conan


If you haven’t been paying attention to this blog for the last 11 months, then you may not have realized that I was looking forward to last night’s premiere of Conan on TBS. I haven’t even minded all the commercials and the endless promotion during the baseball playoffs.

The main reason for the excitement wasn’t just that a great comedian was returning to television, but that the return represented a chance to finally move on. Conan O’Brien has been active since he lost The Tonight Show to Jay Leno in January: He got a new job, he went on a live tour, he grew a beard, he appeared on 60 Minutes, and he even got on Twitter. What has been frustrating, though, is that the most common subject in his comedy during this interregnum has been Conan himself—namely his departure from NBC and his new job on TBS.

Back in January, when The Tonight Show essentially became about its own future, it was refreshing to see an unleashed Conan mercilessly go after his own bosses at NBC. Unlike Jay Leno, who played dumb during the whole process, Conan wasn’t afraid to be honest and hilariously vicious. Unlike Jimmy Kimmel, who had nothing to lose by being vicious, and David Letterman, who played the role of elder statesman throughout, Conan’s attacks were also endearingly honest and personal, since he was going through the ordeal himself and had something to lose by attacking his employer. Continue reading

Monday Medley

What we read on our 48-hour sabbatical from MSNBC…

Monday Medley

What we read while deciding not to publish our own story about not having sex with Christine O’Donnell…

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  • Speaking of statistical analysis, the Mets hired sabermetrics-advocate Sandy Alderson as their new General Manager this week. Here is an extensive (and excellent) interview of Alderson back when he was CEO of the Padres. Rumor has it that he’s going to bring along Paul DePodesta to the front office, who was prominent in Moneyball (a book we’ve invoked a few times so far), and has his own blog.

Conan On 60 Minutes Tonight

Conan O’Brien makes his return to television (kind of) tonight: He will be interviewed by Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes. This will be his first appearance on TV since he was booted from The Tonight Show in January. Back then, if you recall, I lamented what I referred to as “The Conan Travesty.” Now, though, he is going to TBS, and all is right with the world.

Meanwhile, Jay Leno is getting outdone by President Obama. Speaking of Obama, in honor of his commencement address at Michigan yesterday, here’s Conan’s speech to Harvard from 2000: Continue reading

Did The Marriage Ref Single-Handedly Ruin Jerry Seinfeld’s Reputation?

The following things were written following the “sneak peek” of The Marriage Ref—the new show from Jerry Seinfeld that has been promoted like it was the boss’ son—that aired after Sunday’s Closing Ceremonies on NBC:

“And then, just as the ceremonies were reaching a brilliant crescendo of Canadian self-satire, NBC cut away… to the premiere/preview of Jerry Seinfeld’s The Marriage Ref, the most God-awful mishmash of a comedy-variety show to lead into local news on NBC since immediately before the Olympics.”

“Painful, pointless, obnoxious… I would almost rather have The Jay Leno Show back.”

“I had just watched 30 minutes of the goofy Olympic Closing Ceremony which was — and I say this with all due respect to my second favorite country on earth — the sort of thing you would see if you gave a third grade teacher $30 million to put on a school play. And that 30 minutes at the Olympics was like heaven, like sheer bliss, like a show co-written by William Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Mel Brooks and the author of the 23rd Psalm compared to The Marriage Ref.”

“The only good thing I could find about this was the fact that I only had to watch half an episode. When the show comes back on Thursday, it’ll be a full hour long. And that’s probably the worst thing about it.”

“Would you rather watch dolphins get slaughtered, or would you rather sit through a second episode of The Marriage Ref?”

It’s worth noting that all of these statements came from writers who have made a point of highlighting their appreciation of Jerry Seinfeld and his classic sitcom (the first quote came from James Poniewozik of Time, the second from TV critic Alan Sepinwall, the third from sportswriter Joe Posnanski’s blog, the fourth from Todd VanDerWerff at The AV Club, and the last form Bill Simmons’ Twitter). I cannot remember the last time, if ever, a show with such a prominent and well-regarded name attached to it has failed so spectacularly. Continue reading