Team Jay or Team Conan? Personally, I like Team Conan. I remember five years ago when the news came out that "...in 2009, Jay Leno will step aside and hand the reigns of The Tonight Show over to Conan O'Brien. My, in 2004 how 2009 seemed like a long, long way off at the time. Now? Its just a few short weeks ago.
Boy, they created a mess, didn't they? From what I can remember without going all Wiki or Google, Conan's contract was set to expire, so rather than NBC saying, "Hey, we'll pay you a bunch of money to stay right where you are, on 'Late Night'", NBC said, "Hey, don't leave! What do you want? 'The Tonight Show'? We'll give it to you in... uh, in 2009! Five years! That's right, five more years!"
At this point, Leno should have said, "Okay, I don't like that idea, 'cause I want to keep 'The Tonight Show', if its doing well, right?" And then NBC, Leno and Conan should have all sat down at the table and discussed their options. In 2004.
Smashcut to 2008, when the time for Leno to step aside and Conan to take over was fastly approaching. In July of 1995, when Hugh Grant publicly admitted his cheating on then-wife Elizabeth Hurley, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno beat The David Letterman Show for the first time since Letterman left NBC, and had been #1 ever since. When it was obvious Leno didn't want to quit "The Tonight Show", even though the show was promised to Conan, NBC should have sat down with Leno and Conan and said, "Okay, look.. we got a great thing going. Leno is #1... everyone loves Conan at 1230 (EST), and at that time, Conan, you can do your slightly below reproach bits and sketches. We don't want to rock this ship, 'k? Let's talk money. How about $20 million, Conan ol' boy?"
Instead, they give Conan O'Brien "The Tonight Show", as promised--at least they held that up. So, Leno is thinking of going elsewhere... and NBC says, "Wait, wait, wait... don't leave, Jay... what if... what if we uh... hey, what if you take an hour, five days a week, in prime time? Not only will we save money, not having to pay for a real, scripted show, we can keep you, and Conan is happy with 'The Tonight Show'! We rule!"
The problem is, it cut Conan's knees out from under him. Think about it... if you're Denzel Washington wanting to promote "The Book of Eli", do you want to go on "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien at 1230am, or do you want to go on "The Jay Leno Show" at 10pm, where many, many more millions will see you? Besides that, if you watch "The Jay Leno Show", do you really want to stay past the news and watch more talk?
And, as expected, "The Jay Leno Show" completely tanked. Local NBC affliates were even discussing dropping the show from some of their rotations due to the fact that their local newscasts were also tanking. Then, they figured they'd fix the problem by moving "The Jay Leno Show" back to 1130, after the news, then backing up "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien" to midnight. Conan, who had dreamt of getting "The Tonight Show" for years and years (much like Letterman did, before he was jaded by NBC in favor of Leno, forcing Letterman to go to CBS), wouldn't allow it.
So, instead of backing up the Brinks Truck to Conan's door to keep him on "The Late Show" in 2009, that they probably could have gotten away with for a cool $20 mil or so, they are going to pay him about $45 million dollars to leave. And even though to most of America, it's a silly filthy rich guy vs a filthy rich guy, its a big deal. Not to mention that just about everyone I know is totally taking Conan's side on this. Of course, it didn't help when Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC's sports division, goes on record in saying that Conan's jokes about Leno as "chicken-hearted and gutless to blame a guy you couldn't beat in the ratings." He added, "what this is really all about is an astounding failure by Conan."
I've read reports that Jay Leno is actually a shark. Despite the good nature he has, and the charitible man he can be, I've read that behind the scenes, he is cutthroat and ruthless, doing what he has to do to succeed. Now, this doesn't make him much different than most Hollywood big names I'm sure, but you watch "The Jay Leno Show"... well, actually you don't, and that's the problem, eh?... and he seems so nice and pleasant and approachable and so on.
Anyway, all this is to present the following, which is good for a laugh...
Conan sez... "Hosting 'The Tonight Show' has been the fulfillment of a life-long dream for me. And I just want to say to the kids out there watching, you can do anything you want in life. Unless Jay Leno wants to do it, too."
Jay sez... "Sure you heard these rumors that NBC is talking about canceling our show. You know what that means? I didn't sleep with any of my staff for nothing."
Jimmy Kimmel, who came out on his own show in a ridiculous Jay Leno costume, sez... "Hello, my name is Jay Leno. You might have known, I'm taking over all of the shows in late night. Even this one. Great to be here on ABC. You know what ABC stands for? Always Bump Conan. That's right. Anyway, Conan O'Brien today announced he's leaving NBC. He released a statement that said, I won't participate in the destruction of the 'Tonight Show.' Fortunately, though, I will."
Conan sez... "Hello, I’m Conan O’Brien, and sorry if I’m a little late . . . I had a job interview at Lady Foot Locker."
Letterman sez... "Last night on ABC, Jimmy Kimmel did the entire show as Jay Leno. Jimmy Kimmel was so convincing as Jay Leno, they canceled him."
Jimmy Fallon, who has stayed mostly neutral saying, "I'm happy to have a job, [...] but it's kind of weird, because these are two of my heroes and two of my friends." The late night host then likened the feud to getting married and "finally getting to know the in-laws and they are CRAZY."
Letterman, discussing Carson Daly who hasn't made a sound, joked that he’s “never even seen a picture of Carson Daly.”
Speaking of Daly, Conan sez... "Good evening, everybody. I'm Conan O'Brien, the new host of 'Last Call with Carson Daly'"
George Lopez sez... "What is going on over there at NBC? What does NBC stand for: Nobody Backs Conan? ...Who would've imagined that the Mexican talk show host would have the most job security."
Leno sez... "NBC said the show performed exactly as they expected it would and then canceled us. Don't confuse this when we were on at late night and performed better than expected and they canceled us. That was totally different."
Conan sez... "My name is Conan O'Brien, and I may soon be available for children's parties."
Letterman sez... "Simon Cowell is leaving 'American Idol, but don't worry - we've checked and Jay's fingerprints are nowhere on this one."
George Lopez sez... "Conan is like that girl in the 'Bachelor' who gets the rose but then gets the boot in the postshow."
Leno sez... "My people are upset. Conan's people are upset. Hey, NBC said it wanted drama at 10:00 -- now they've got it!"
Conan sez... "Hi, I'm Conan O'Brien, and I'm just three days away from the biggest drinking binge in history."
Letterman sez... "I'm a little worried about Conan. I'm not worried about Jay, he'll land on his chin, he always does."
Leno sez... "Conan O'Brien, understandably, is very upset. He had a statement in the paper yesterday. And Conan said NBC had only given him seven months to make his show work. When I heard that, seven months, how'd he get that deal? We only got four."
Conan sez... "I've been advised that until this whole thing is sorted out, NBC lawyers have asked me to refer to this program as The Sometime At Night Show with Some White Guy."
Letterman sez... "At 12:05 AM, that's not 'The Tonight Show,' that's 'The Tomorrow Show'!"
Conan, speaking about the free time he'll have, and what he'll do, sez... "I'll Introduce myself to my children... Make a big move to Fox. Megan Fox."
Conan sez... "I just had a doll made of me, so I can tell my children where NBC touched Daddy..."
AND MY PERSONAL FAVORITE...
Conan sez... "There's a rumor that NBC is so upset with me that want to keep me off the air for three years. My response to that is if NBC doesn't want people to see me, just leave me on NBC."