Thursday, January 7, 2010

An open letter to the National Bullcrapping Company

ATTENTION BLOGGERS, COMMENTERS, AND WEB SURFERS: I realize that there are a lot of strong feelings about the whole Leno-Conan debacle. If you haven't heard about what I am talking about, click here for the news.

If you read this blog frequently, you know that I am a huge Conan fan. What NBC is contemplating doing to him right now spurred me to write the following post.

Regardless if you play for Team Leno or Team Conan, and which brand of comedy you prefer, I welcome your comments. Those who fall in either camp are steadfastly supportive of their heroes. All I can say is: BRING. IT. ON.

Dear NBC,

You have been the bastion of many jokes for quite some time now. Lots of media outlets proclaim you the "fourth place network". This is true regardless of whether you consider the CW and MyTV to be actual networks--which they aren't, in my humble opinion.

Lots has been written, tweeted, and blogged about your prime time programming, especially with the addition of The Jay Leno Show to your lineup. When it was announced that the former Tonight Show host was now getting a 10 PM slot, there was lots of speculation as to why you had moved to that slot. Some said that they kept him at 10:00 to "protect Conan"; they were afraid he'd jump ship and kill Conan's ratings once he moved to the Tonight Show. Others, like me, felt it was a vast conspiracy: If Conan majorly bombed, and didn't bring the ratings the Peacock wanted, they had Leno as a backup.

Well, it looks like the latter theory has come to fruition, and it upsets me not just as a Conan fan, but also really saddens me as a human being.

I was a high school junior back in 1993 when it was announced that Jay Leno would succeed Johnny Carson as the host of the Tonight Show. Remember the firestorm that caused, NBC? Mr. Carson wanted his good friend David Letterman to be his successor, and then Letterman was so distraught that he up and left your network? And to think of the relationship that Carson and Letterman had; Carson was a true mentor to him. And when Carson died, was it Leno who did an entire tribute show to him upon his passing? No, NBC, it was Mr. Letterman, who did a beautiful tribute on his Late Show on CBS, complete with the following:
  • Carson-era Tonight Show bumpers that appeared before and after commercials;
  • former Tonight Show executive producer Peter Lassally as guest (yes, I know he also worked for Letterman, but still...);
  • Carson's band leader, Doc Severinsen appeared as musical guest, playing his trumpet alongside Paul Shaffer in a loving tribute;
  • an opening monologue full of jokes that Johnny Carson told throughout his years as Tonight Show host.
I was in the hospital when I saw Mr. Letterman's tribute to his beloved mentor, and I thought it was a classy, respectful, genuine way to say farewell to someone who meant a lot to him, professionally and personally. Jay Leno did not a tribute in as grand a scale on Johnny Carson's own TV show!!!

Speaking of David Letterman, say what you will about him and the sex scandal from a few months back, but let's give him some credit here, too. When Conan O'Brien succeeded him as the host of Late Night, there was a lot of doubt that he would succeed. David Letterman served as a mentor to him in his formative years, appearing on his show, and even sending his standby audience to 30 Rock to help him fill the seats.

Well, Mr. O'Brien did succeed, so much so that, back in 2004, he was named Jay Leno's successor to the Tonight Show. According to the press that I read at the time, NBC's wish was to avoid another Leno/Letterman succession fiasco.

Well guess what, NBC--that backfired. Big time.

It's bad enough that you had to do this to David Letterman. But to do it twice?!?! Conan moved across the country, not just with his writers and staff, but with his family (with two very young children, by the way) and their families. They've been out in Los Angeles for seven months now. You built a brand new studio for him on the Universal Studios lot. And now all of a sudden, you ring the bell and proclaim that recess is over?!?!

Consider Conan's backstory, NBC: here's a guy who once worked with you on a week-by-week contract. He once was a television writer who suddenly got his own show, succeeding a late-night legend. There are many who vehemently dislike Conan's humor, but even those who do have got to admire what it took him to get to where he is now. Everyone loves a success story such as Conan's.

Since I started writing this post half an hour ago, I cannot tell you how many tweets, Facebook groups, and blog postings have emerged in support of Conan. And the longer I'm on my Twitter account, reading the tweets that pop up since my initial search, hundreds more enter the feed. Ninety-five percent of said tweets have a favorable opinion of Mr. O'Brien.

I've been spending the last twenty minutes trying to think of a suitable conclusion to my angry letter, and all I can come up with is this: TEAM CONAN. Two words that so nicely summarize my feelings.

Conan, his family, and all those affiliated with the Tonight Show, deserve a helluva lot better.

The Bookkitten


drollgirl said...

conan is the best. i do not understand why he always gets the shaft. TEAM CONAN. all the way.

and nbc? shame on you.

RunninL8 said...

Team Letterman!?
i haven't had cable/broadcast TV since 1999! I'm cool wit dat but, man, I do miss my boyfriend Dave!!!!
ALWAYS hated Leno. His voice sounds like someone squeezing the opening of a balloon and slowly forcing the air out. freak.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I agree completely! Conan is awesome! My husband watches The Tonight Show on Hulu every morning, and he NEVER watched it when Jay was on. Do they not realize Jay's show is bombing because of HIM? And I'm sure The Tonight Show suffered a bit when Johnny first left, too. That is SO WRONG they are considering firing Conan. So so wrong!

Serena said...

I enjoy both Conan and Leno. I love Leno and didn't want him to go, but you are right! NBC did Conan a disservice and in my opinion were disloyal to a man who has exceeded their expectations more than once. Ridiculous.

Jenners said...

Conan is so much better than Leno ... I think if Leno had any class, he would just step aside. He doesn't need the money.

Lisa said...

Although I am team Letterman and could care a less about the other two, I do find it incredible that an entire NETWORK would pander to Leno like this. Oh, Leno, he gets whatever he wants, and screw everybody else.


pippirose said...

While I've always liked Leno, I think it's terribly unfair of NBC. When Leno first announced he was leaving, I thought he was going to retire. Then when NBC announced he would be taking the 10:00 time slot, I thought how absurd.
Now, this?
Because he bombed at that time slot?
I'm losing respect for Jay.
Now, if he were to go to Fox--THAT would be a better solution.
I hope that Conan has legal reason to fight this.

Jodi said...

Damn your good!! Love the letter!!
I want you on my side if I ever am in a fight!