Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #429: Conan The Barbarian

Welcome to the show folks...

Conan O'Brien got his Irish up and released a statement telling the people of Earth that he thinks NBC's idea of bumping
The Tonight Show into post midnight oblivion is wrong, wrong, wrong, and that while he is not resigning, or even considering other options, he is refusing to go quietly into that goodnight, and will fight the network tooth and claw as seen in this artist's impression:
Now I think that this courage is backed up by his legal team finding something in his Tonight Show contract that gives him grounds to scream "BREACH! BREACH!" like a French soldier when Henry V came swanning into Calais.*

Remember, Conan's contract contains a very specific definition of his job, and an even more specific definition of what constitutes as the
Tonight Show. If NBC's frantic and frenzied attempt at fixing yet another Jeff Zucker mess constitutes as a violation of that definition of the Tonight Show, then Conan can walk away with a nice fat pay-day, and Jay Leno or some other guest host ends up taking back a show with so much resentment surrounding it that some potential guests are even threatening to boycott it.

This isn't the first time a
Tonight Show host has fought the network. Early host Jack Paar literally resigned live on the air because of petty censorship. He walked, NBC got stuck with a black hole in their ratings, and they begged Paar to come back. He did, but not before making NBC his bitch.

That legacy went on to Paar's heir Johnny Carson, who never took NBC's bullshit, and made sure they knew that. At it's peak the Tonight Show generated a giant percentage of NBC's income and was guaranteed to keep the network afloat through lean years. If they tried to hassle Carson, he threatened to walk.

David Letterman inherited that attitude when he was Carson's follow up host and heir apparent.

And that's why he ended up on CBS.

Letterman, like Carson, didn't like to play the network minion, schmoozing with affiliates and other shill work, but Jay Leno, always the obedient trooper, did. Before you could say Ernie Kovacs, Leno was in and Letterman was out.

And that was when things started to turn bad for the Tonight Show.

Not right away. Leno's trooper attitude played well to audiences, and usually put him ahead of Letterman in the ratings, but in TV, especially with NBC ratings aren't everything. Leno started to allow the network to interfere with the show, and while it seemed to work out at first, he should have seen that eventually the show would be "Zuckerfied."

Zuckerfied is when a show is essentially trashed by inane decisions in a vain attempt to justify the existence of NBC-Universal CEO Jeff Zucker. Boy did they Zuckerfy the Tonight Show.

I'm not saying that Conan O'Brien is a bad host. I like Conan O'Brien, he's funny, likable, and a good enough host to let his guests run when they have a good thing going on. But NBC is trying to forcibly reshape him into Leno, and that's driving viewers to Letterman.

Now instead of letting Conan be Conan, they are trying to replace him with Leno, without actually having to pay for it. NBC is trying to have its shit cake and eat it too.

Personally, I'm rooting for Conan O'Brien. I hope he fights them into the ground, and puts the royal Irish smackdown on them. Then maybe he can do a show, whether or not its on NBC, where he can be free to be himself. I also hope that Leno realizes that he's rich enough to afford a spine, and stands up for his fellow comedian/host.


*Obscure Reference Alert Dennis Miller Level 8.

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