Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Yet Another Reason Why NBC Sucks

If there's one thing in the world that pisses me off, it's messing with my boy Conan O'Brien.

Perhaps my favorite TV personality, and easily the best host in late night, O'Brien is being bumped to make room for the aging and increasingly unfunny Jay Leno.

Leno, whose prime-time ratings have been abysmal, agreed,in 2004, to turn "The Tonight Show" over to O'Brien in 2009. He didn't want to let go of the position in the end and has publicly made it clear that he wanted his former time slot back.

In steps NBC.

The NBC executives responsible for this have clearly not paid attention to their own network's or O'Brien's history. The first few years of his stint on "Late Night" were blasted by critics. Yet he continued to develop his own style and superb comedic timing, which led to him becoming the best in the business. He developed a growing fan base, especially with young adults, and if given the right amount of time (Hint: it's more than the 7-8 months he's currently been on) he would no doubt take "The Tonight Show" back to the top.

And one thing that proves his top-notch character is the statement he released on the situation. It reads as follows:

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.



He respects "The Tonight Show" too much to move it back. He respects "Late Night" and Jimmy Fallon enough to not jeopardize the potential of their success. And he ends by lightening the tone with a hair joke. That is why he is the best.

And another reason why NBC sucks!

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