Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Conan vs Leno: Is it over?

If you've been following the antics behind the scenes in NBC of late you'll know that NBC in their infinite wisdom have realised their colossal mistake with giving Jay Leno a variety show on prime time. As this move caused them to lose money hand-over-fist [and NBC isn't exactly making too much these days] and in an effort to fix this, they want to shift the huge-chinned one up to 23.35 after the News and then keeping Conan O'Brien on The Tonight Show, but after Leno's new half-hour slot and beginning at 00:05.

Today Conan O'Brien released a statement in which he appears to say "Screw You" [in a controlled diplomatic way] to NBC and will not be doing this show if forced into a 00:05 timeslot.

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.



It's not Leno's fault his show is shit and he's past his peak, but for NBC to treat Conan like they have speaks volumes about the muppets who are running that outfit. They intended to make their scheduling change in February but there was little talk about what would be replacing Leno's hour at 10 in prime time? I have it on good authority that they're working on reboot of The Rockford Files, [yes the show with James Garner... ] and a show about a man preventing a conspiracy or a disaster happening in the future or something? [but admittedly that was news from a crazy man on the other end of a phone].

I'm glad Conan has the balls to call the dimwitted morons of NBC out, he was approached by FOX at one time to do a show for them, so maybe Peter Rice should pick up the phone and call the cool-haired-one again!

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