I started this post almost a week ago but then wasn't sure if I wanted to finish it, because I'm sure most people are over the whole late night fiasco. But then I figured, I wrote it, I might as well share it. So, one more time, and then I'll shut up about the whole thing, at least until Conan gets another show...
I was so sad to watch Conan sign off last Friday night. Almost a year ago I wrote a post about his last Late Night show, and while that was sad in a way, there was at least the guarantee that he would be back in 3 months to host the Tonight Show. This time, nothing is certain, though I am hopeful that by September we'll see him somewhere on TV again.
I'm still annoyed about the whole situation, however. In 2004, NBC made the decision to hand the Tonight Show over to Conan in 2009, and Leno appeared to go along with this and announce it on his show, claiming to want a smooth transition, unlike the Carson/Leno/Letterman debacle in the 90s. Now, of course, people are claiming that Leno was forced out by NBC - well, if that was the case, he should have made his feelings known, like Conan did with his statement, or gone to a competitor. Letterman put it best when he said (and I'm paraphrasing), "When they tell you Conan's going to take over your job, you leave, you don't hang around in the lobby." But Leno did hang around, and NBC decided to stick him at 10:00...and obviously that didn't work. NBC made another poor decision by hatching the plan that Leno would move his show to 11:35 and Conan's Tonight Show would air at 12:05 (the next day, not "Tonight"!). But once again, instead of bowing out gracefully like he said he would 5 years ago, Leno stayed in there after Conan refused to move his timeslot.
Conan said he based his decision on the reasons of the Tonight Show legacy and the potential effect on Jimmy Fallon's ratings, which are completely valid and thoughtful reasons. I just don't get why Leno is willing to come back and look like the bad guy who forced Conan out of a job - the job he appeared to hand over willingly. What is the hold Leno has on NBC that they're willing to just forget Conan - who was the reigning host of the Tonight Show?! - and completely neglect the fact that his entire staff moved from New York to Los Angeles for this...and that they built a brand new studio...? I've never thought Leno was particularly funny - to each his own, but Conan is much more my style. I tolerated Leno before, but I'm done now. I will never voluntarily watch any of his shows again, and if I weren't hooked on so many other NBC shows I'd stop watching the network altogether. I enjoyed this tweet from a mock Twitter account for Jeff Zucker, the NBC president (Twitter has since required this person to add "fake" to his account name.): @jzucker_ceo: New Tonight Show ride at Universal Studios! You stand in line until it's your turn, then you let the last guy go again.
On a positive note, Conan's last Tonight Show had some awesome moments (I know I'm going link crazy in this post, so I won't link to each segment - they should be easy to find on Hulu though!). The montage set to "Surrender" was so much fun - and that song will forever remind me of the opening to his June 1st show when he "forgot" to move to L.A. and ran across the country. The song choices of "Long May You Run" by Neil Young and "Free Bird" by Will Ferrell were perfectly appropriate and meaningful for the occasion, and Tom Hanks was delightful as usual. But I think my favorite part was when Conan gave a little speech at the end, saying how much the Tonight Show experience had meant to him and how much he appreciated the support of his fans. I posted this quote from him on Facebook and got the most comments/likes I've had in quite awhile: "Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen."
Aside from finding Conan completely hilarious, I also think he seems like a really good guy who cares about his staff and his audience. His advice is definitely something I need to take to heart right now, because I can see myself getting cynical about certain things and feeling like "nice guys finish last" is a true statement lately. But I'm sure he'll find success again, and I'll try to follow that lead, in my own way. Whatever happens, I'm looking forward to when Conan can again make me laugh at the end of a long day. See ya in September, CoCo.
5 hours ago