I want to weigh in on the NBC-Tonight Show debacle that’s been going on for, well months now. At the bottom of this post you will find Conan O’Brien’s letter to the ‘people of earth’ about the situation.
The only one that has handled this mess with class the entire time over the past months and years has been Conan. Recently, Jay has made ‘politically correct’ jokes about the matter, but he has been undermining Conan’s Tonight show for years before Conan even took over. It’s no secret that Jay has been disrespecting Conan, well since Conan came to NBC. When Jay was moved into his new prime-time time-slot, he continued to pounce on Conan in interviews; belittling his version of the Tonight show with under-handed remarks. Instead of being a gentleman and handing the show over with class and dignity like he should have, Jay proved that he had none. If he does get the Tonight show back, it will be a huge disaster leaving Jay with no class or self-respect (not that he has much left anyways).
Meanwhile, Conan has been nothing but respectful to Jay, even during this recent turn of events his jokes are aimed at NBC, not Jay. Personally? I think that if NBC doesn’t give the Tonight show to Conan at 11:30, they should let him out of his contract and if they don’t Conan should lock them up in court for years, essentially forcing their hand.
I think Fox would pay an incredible amount of money to lure Conan over to them,.. giving them a foothold in the one TV market they don’t have one in yet, late night. Not that Conan’s Tonight show isn’t his design, but at Fox I believe he would have even more control to really do things his way, it would be a great oppurtunity for him to start something completely fresh and new at a place that hungers for their own late-night show.
Here is to you Conan O’Brien, the only one at NBC who has remained with his class and dignity in tact, good for you! Here is Conan’s letter to the world below….
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.