Friday, January 15, 2010

Well, At Least It's Got Me Watching

I've been peppering Twitter with my thoughts on this whole Leno-NBC-O'Brien brouhaha. Why? Because it's Twitter, and not everything I say there will be Earth-shatteringly important.

Here neither. Which is why I'm going to combine those thoughts...

I've been a fan of Conan's since he was writing for SNL, and then the Simpsons. Of course, I had no idea I was fan of his, because he was little more than an off-screen writer (his appearance as a waiter in the "Five-Timers Club" sketch notwithstanding). Then this gawky red-pompadoured guy took over Letterman's spot on late night, and I had no idea who he was. His monologues were awkward, and his conversations with the fat co-host were stilted. But a couple times each show, he did something so quirky that I took notice. Or he made an off-the-cuff comment that was hilarious. I stuck around, and these tall Irish geek became my favourite late night host.

Leno? Never really a fan. The odd chuckle, usually at others' expense, but generally bland and boring. When Branford Marsalis left the show and Kevin Eubanks came in, the ass-kissery became so obvious that I couldn't bother watching and stuck with Dave when I watched something at 11:35. Plus, the fact that he'd pissed off Letterman and lost him The Tonight Show didn't sit well either.

So my bias is clear.

The disdain for Leno from the rest of late night and other celebs who should know a bit about him tells me that he's made more than a few enemies of the years. At the very least, he hasn't made friends. The fact Zucker and the NBC brain trust think he's the second coming tells me that he's spent most of his time kissing the right asses for his career instead of being genuine to the rest of his community.

The tales of him being a nice guy are sounding more and more like he's a nice guy to his fans, but not in reality.

And it seems to be a foregone conclusion that he's getting The Tonight Show back. NBC doesn't want O'Brien, and while Conan might want the show, he certainly doesn't want NBC. Plus, he's never been hotter than he is now. The rage and sorrow he and his staff are feeling is coming out exactly how it should with that talent - in comedy. Biting, scathing, backhanded comedy. What's NBC going to do? Fire him?

He's got the support of fans, cohorts, and decision-makers elsewhere who see his commercial appeal and talent. He'll find something. All the posturing between him and the NBC brass will result in a lower buy-out than he'll like, but that will buy him the ability to find work immediately instead of down the road.

Leno and NBC? No way this looks good on them. Leno comes off as a small, greedy man in this. He gets his show back that he never wanted to give up. Hey, I called him a douche days ago. It's nice that the world's catching up.

NBC gets some audience back, but loses the last dedicated audience they'll get from this generation at that time slot. The 60+ crowd falling asleep to Jaywalking will die off eventually. The 30+ crowd that knows who the masturbating bear is have a longer lifespan, and more money to spend in that time.

NBC just looks like a bunch of out-of-touch morons. Zucker's gone within the year, barring some miracle shows giving them ratings.

And when Conan does land on his feet, it will be big. It'll be his Tonight Show crew that's in tow with him, but they'll be given free reign. None of the constraints of 55 years of tradition and an audience to appease. None of the awkwardness of his first show, or nervousness of the big one. He'll hit the ground running, with people salivating for what he has to offer.

It'll take time, but eventually, he'll once again find a niche that we can cruise in. No doubt Team Coco will be there to cheer him on.

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