Friday, 8 January 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #426: Late Night Follies

Welcome to the show folks...

Poor old NBC, it can't seem to do anything right lately.

First, they bumped Jay Leno of the
Tonight Show, replacing him with the gangly ginger frat-boy Conan O'Brien. O'Brien's frantic style was seen by a lot of Leno's viewers as an unwelcome change of pace, and they started to drift away, some to Letterman, and some to sleep.

Second, they put Jay Leno
on every weekday night at 10:00 pm, with a format that hasn't really won in US prime-time since the day Ed Sullivan died. Thus proving that people are a lot more forgiving when they're half asleep, and creating a black hole in the NBC weekday schedule, as well as pissing off legions of writers, directors, producers, and actors who would otherwise be making the shows that would have normally been in that time-slot.

But wait, as the late great Billy Mays would say, there's more.

Now the word is going around that Leno's show will be cut to half an hour, and moved from 10:00 pm to just after the local late news, around 11:35 pm in most markets, and bumping Conan's Tonight Show, and Jimmy Fallon's show to 12:05 am, and 1:05 am, respectively.

And the lesson is, when NBC hits bottom, they start digging harder.

Here were the options they had:

1. Let things at late night remain as they were, giving Conan a chance to find his own audience and hope that the show loses the novelty of his recent lechery, and folks tire of Letterman's smug and condescending style as they did shortly after his
Late Show originally debuted.

2. Hit the reset button and put everyone back where they started when all this began, even though it would mean paying Conan a $40 million indemnity for taking away the
Tonight Show.

3. Fire everyone, and I mean everyone, from the top down, and start all over from scratch.

4. Do a sort of half-assed "solution" that will please no one, especially audiences, pretty solely to avoid having to pay-off a pissed-off O'Brien.

This is basically Option 4 in action.

But right now Conan O'Brien has an option of his own. The Fox Network has expressed that they might be interested in bringing Conan into their fold, which could be happening for two reasons.

1. Fox might actually be really interested in having O'Brien and his audience for their late night slot.

2. Fox is really interested in being a bug up NBC's ass by giving O'Brien some leverage in the inevitable fight with the peacock network. (Don't put it past them, I know I couldn't resist tossing my proverbial fox into the NBC hen-house to watch the feathers fly.)

Right now I'm sure Conan's legal people are examining every piece of punctuation in his contract with NBC and whether or not this time slot shuffle violates said contract, freeing him to cash out and move on.

Either way, NBC has put itself in a very unpleasant position, again, and they have only themselves to blame for it.

Anyway, it's all moot to me. I live in a time zone where everything's on a full hour later anyway, and that's way past this old-timer's bed time.

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