Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Does Conan O'Brien Read My Blog?

Conan O'Brien, the current host of "The Tonight Show," released a statement today in which he made it clear that he will not accept NBC's offer to push that program's start time back to 12:05 am to accommodate moving Jay Leno's show to 11:35.

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.

Mr. O'Brien's statement is well worth reading in its entirety. All things considered (that is, his shabby treatment by NBC), it is a model of restraint and generosity.

But then, he takes a shot at me directly:

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.

This is a clear reference to me and my blog. As regular readers know, I wrote in a posting on January 10:

But really, how much longer is the entire idea of "time slots" going to exist anyway? By 2014 DVRs are expected to be in over 50 million homes. Most cable systems have on demand services. At the Consumer Electronics Show this past week, Samsung introduced "apps on your TV"...
Time slots are going to seem so quaint, one day. We'll all be able to tell our kids that way back when, we had these things called "networks" that would "broadcast" shows that we would have to "record" on devices called "DVRs," so we could watch them anytime we wanted thereafter.

Mr. O'Brien is a talented writer and performer. He is responsible for some very funny television bits, on Saturday Night Live, The Simpsons, Late Night, and The Tonight Show. Also, that show he made with Adam West, "Lookwell!," which might be the funniest half-hour of television of the last twenty years. And while I'm gratified that Mr. O'Brien reads my blog (probably every day, and probably while wearing a robe and smoking a fine cigar and drinking cognac, having just stepped out of a refreshing bath), it is disconcerting and I admit a little confusing that he would use such a public venue to take a shot at me.

Mr. O'Brien, please stop taking shots at me.

BONUS: "Lookwell!"

Conan O'Brien pic source.


shampoo said...

hi, conan! (waves)

shampoo said...

his statement is nice.

nbc needs to take a deep breath and calm down. then, they need to get jay and conan in and sort this out. both jay and conan want to do a good show that people will watch. both honestly seem to care about nbc's late night programming.

tmz talked to jay and he seemed unsure of wtf was going on (and he was clearly trying not to say anything bad about anyone). then they talked to conan, he also seemed not to want to talk bad about anyone and even more in the dark about wtf was going on...

bring them both in nbc, they cannot possibly come up with a worse plan than 1. shoving the tonight show back so far which causes 2. conan leaving. and conan is right. they can call that show the tonight show, but it won't be.

about the apps... it'll still be some years (5?) after that before we get to the point where time slots don't matter. I think that's what conan means. also, nbc does realize some people promptly go to bed after the tonight show?

I just heard "middle america doesn't understand conan" what b.s. not everyone who doesn't live in nyc or la is sarah palinesque. the tonight show audience always spends a couple of years missing the old host, probably because there haven't been that many hosts over its very long run.

Ricky Sprague said...

The whole "middle America doesn't understand" is just something that snobs say to explain why they're not that popular. I should know-- I say it myself all the time.

If NBC wanted O'Brien, they should have just gone with him and let Leno go to take his chances. But they were afraid that Leno, who was still number one by a wide margin when he was pushed out, would come back on ABC or Fox and go straight back to number one.

In other words, NBC never really had any confidence in O'Brien.

But as you've noted in your comment, it will still be a few years before time slots really don't matter. I think NBC is looking short-term. Leno's still popular; give him another five years or so (probably back at number one), and then the entire question will be moot anyway. NBC will exercise whatever clause is in O'Brien's contract to keep him off the air for another year or two. By then we'll be very close to a completely "on demand world."

Ricky Sprague said...

Oh, and by the way, Oprah Winfrey is going to host the newly revamped "Tonight Show" beginning next year when she leaves her daytime show.

Mark it.

shampoo said...

ricky sprague, this is what I don't understand... when we get to the on demand world, why wouldn't they want conan? it would only increase his audience.

of course, by that time, he may be able to just post his own show from his house and do well. who knows...

in a way I really like he on demand thing (which I don't have but have used). it's so handy. but it is kind of neat to watch the same time as everyone else... but they need to make it worth your while. especially during these transitional years.

the m.a. comment... I think conan's humor is pretty easy to "get."
granted, there will always be people who like or don't like a person's humor... I usually love the late night shows, but due to personal issues I am not really into them now (and it's not because of anything being done on the shows). hm... given the way 09 was maybe that's a better explanation of lack o' viewers.

shampoo said...

btw, good call about oprah... I can see that happening.

speaking of the all on demand world, now's when they really need to do things to promote certain shows and people because a certain amount of viewers only watch (whatever) because it was the best thing on at the time. now's when they need to work getting a loyal audience for future delivery options... which is what you're saying (haha, chagrined).