"There have been three hosts of Late Night and if there's one thing I've learned from Dave and Conan, it's that hosting this show is a one-way ticket to not hosting The Tonight Show.” – Jimmy Fallon
Tonight marks the end of the 7 month run of Conan O’Brien as the host of “The Tonight Show”.
Why is this happening? For starts, NBC seems to think that Jay Leno is the most important person at the network. In order to keep him at NBC, they demolished their own prime time schedule by sticking him at 10PM 5 nights a week. Then, when the affiliates all screamed uncle due to the awful effect this decision was having on their 11PM newscasts, they decide that Jay Leno should be moved back to 11:30PM in order to fix what they see as a troubled performance of the “Tonight Show”. This, of course, is just a stupid excuse to keep Jay in the fold and has probably been the behind-the-scenes engineered plan all along.
NBC seems to be ignoring the obvious. Let’s not take into account that Conan is going up against David Letterman, who has been in that time slot for over 16 years. Let’s not take into account that having no lead in at 10 destroyed multiple affiliate newscasts across the country and also destroyed any lead-in advantage Conan might need. Let’s not take into account that Conan was winning the 18-34 demo which is supposedly why they wanted Conan there in the first place.
I have watched Dave pretty much since year 1, which was 1982. I still have a stack of old video tapes where I would set him on the VCR and watch him the next day (except for those nights where I would sneak back in the den and watch him. No wonder I don’t remember much about school.) I know that I owe most of my demented personality to David Letterman.
I’ve continued to watch Dave but more often than not, I’ve flipped over to Conan during the last 7 months because I want a change of pace and Dave rants quite a bit now. Sometimes it just gets old. Maybe he’s just tired. It’s weird how Conan is a lot like Dave was in the early years. If you go to You Tube and search on Late Night with David Letterman, it’s amazing to watch. You forget how fast paced and frantic Dave was – the energy was endless and he still had the gentleman personality of Johnny Carson. He’s changed quite a lot but I guess we all have in the last 28 years.
Johnny would be just plain sick and probably disgusted with all of the disrespect and back and forth happening now between all of the late night hosts. In 1992, when Jay wrangled the “Tonight Show” away from Johnny and Dave, nothing much on-air was said. Johnny just humbly left. Dave went to CBS and started his own legacy.
So, what is the deal at NBC? Aside from incredible egomaniacal stupidity, NBC is falling victim to a problem that is all across our society today – an incredible lack of patience. Never mind that Conan was making money and showing results. NBC acts like it wants to be number 1 in late night – right now. (Of course, I believe this is just another part of the “Leno Plan”.) Are they number one anywhere else on their schedule? Only in the morning. It’s this extreme lack of patience that has caused NBC to become a last place network. They take good quality shows (like “Southland”) and throw them all over the schedule and then just bail on them. They leave shows like “Law and Order” (yes – it is good and consistent but so is Creme of Wheat) on for years and wonder why the younger demo is elsewhere.
They think they are in touch with the youth of America because they throw SNL specials all over the schedule (like the horrible SNL Christmas special) and roll out stinkers like “Community” (which is a shame because I had high hopes). And, don’t they realize that a lot of the younger set is watching shows on their computers and not on televisions? They are not just stupidly sitting there watching this crap because nothing else is on. Don’t they realize that most HDTV’s are giant computer monitors just waiting in our living rooms for someone to get Apple TV right? When this happens, we’ll have a choice of content and we’ll finally no longer be held hostage by astronomical cable prices that stick us with hundreds of channels we don’t watch.
So, for the future of “Tonight” after Leno, look at “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”. They came on the air completely connected to the culture of the internet. Their website is full of exclusive content and they know the power of the viral video. They already see the future and Jimmy is perfectly set up to be the next host of the “Tonight Show” once Jay is carried off the stage in a body bag.
But, for now Jay Leno will come back on March 1 and all the nursing homes will turn their patient room televisions to him because he is an excellent alternative to sleeping pills. This spike in ratings will make Jeff Zucker think that he is the man. David Letterman will continue to unload on Leno and the late night fights will continue.
And Conan will go down the road in September and start his own legacy on another network just like Dave was forced to do in 1993. And, Conan and Dave together will destroy Jay’s little empire.
I can’t wait.