Posts Tagged ‘the Conan debacle’

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 while kind of wishing we had at least a little volcanic ash to gaze at above:

  • Whenever the one of us who has the Canadian general interest magazine, The Walrus (slogan: “Canada’s best magazne”), in his Google Reader wonders why he still has it in his Google Reader, it comes out with the feature on Toronto rapper and one-time Degrassi star, Aubrey Graham, better known as Drake. The article also dives into the history of Canadian rap (there’s a Snow reference!) and the changing face of rap as a genre. And it’s Tim, by the way. He’s the one with The Walrus in his Google Reader.
  • On the topic of grammar, there’s plenty of miscues among the “40 Dumbest Tax Day Signs.” Our personal favorite is No. 2; nothing’s dumber than putting an apostrophe 20 letters before it’s supposed to be.

The Conan Travesty, Part 3: Jay Leno’s Story

On Monday night’s The Jay Leno Show, Leno finally took the time to seriously address the confusion over at NBC. Predictably, the statement received a lot of attention, and has certainly helped boost the arguments of the new group of Leno-defenders. While certainly not the as good as the dignified masterpiece Conan O’Brien penned a week ago, Leno’s comments do go a long way toward rectifying his “nice guy” persona and showing that Jeff Zucker and his band of NBC idiots, and not Leno himself, are really to blame.

But it would be disingenuous to let Leno off the hook. The logic he employed in his statement, while reasonable, was not exactly airtight, and a closer look may show why the public has taken Conan’s side so decisively. Continue reading

Monday Medley

What we read while making our own pact with the devil:


  • Critical of Norv Turner’s clock management at the end of the Jets-Chargers game, Joe Posnanski wonders why NFL head coaches consistently make such simple time management mistakes. Speaking of the Jets-Chargers game, here is more evidence of Rex Ryan’s awesomeness.

The Conan Travesty, Part 2

Hell yeah! Stick it to The Man!

Conan announced this afternoon that he would not accept NBC’s choice to move him back to 12:05 a.m. Continue reading