Friday, January 29, 2010
The Late Night Wars ... Continued
As most of you probably know already, NBC has made the decision to buy Conan O'Brien's contract out, and give back the Tonight Show to Jay Leno. Certainly, there would've been criticism no matter what NBC would've done (for instance, if they would've let Jay Leno go). But, NBC got themselves into this years ago, by brokering a deal in which Leno was going to retire and O'Brien would take over the Tonight Show.
It sounds to me like at the time, Leno figured he'd be ready to retire, but as the time approached, he decided he wanted to continue. Or maybe NBC forced Leno to do this back then, because they were in danger of losing Conan. Maybe it's a combination of both. In my opinion, the person who got screwed in this situation was Conan - sure, he received a sizable settlement on this, but I'm guessing that Conan really wanted to keep his role of "host of the Tonight Show," the greatest spot on late night television.
And Leno smells like a rat in this. He wouldn't go away like he said he was going to do. And remember, he was in a late night "scandal" back when Carson retired. The show really should've gone to Letterman - he was next in line. But somehow, Leno weaseled his way into the host's chair. NBC seems to be spineless as well. Instead of doing the right thing (in both situations), they kow-towed to Leno for some reason. My hope (and probably the hope of most younder Americans) is NBC falls flat on their face with this move and that Conan builds some sort of late-night super show on another network (like Fox, perhaps?).