Thursday, March 04, 2010

NBC's Don't See TV

The award for The Best Thing Written About the Conan-Leno Affair goes to. . . .

Envelope, please. (Where's that damn letter opener when you need it?)

One moment, please.

AHEM. The award for The Best Thing Written About the Conan-Leno Affair goes to . . . Christopher Lawrence of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Roll the videotape:
If you've ever been screwed over at work, don't watch "The Tonight Show." Conan O'Brien passed up lucrative offers, waited five years and moved, along with his staff, across the country to take over "The Tonight Show," but NBC never really gave it to him. By putting Leno on in prime time, with more fanfare and better guests -- not to mention giving viewers who just wanted to watch any talk show the chance to do that and get a decent night's sleep -- NBC set Conan up to fail from the start.

If you have any business sense whatsoever, don't watch "The Tonight Show." During his last two weeks on the air, Conan stopped being intimidated by "The Tonight Show" and started making captivating television. While Leno's ratings ticked up slightly, Conan's surged. Then there was the "Evita"-style scene with hundreds of Conan fans rallying for hours in the driving rain outside his studio. By contrast, Leno played The Mirage two days earlier, only doing one show instead of his customary two, and the venue had to offer half-price tickets. And NBC still dumped its newly minted folk hero in favor of the weasel with whom only 4 percent of Oprah's audience, some of the most forgiving viewers in the world, sided.

If you've ever been bullied, don't watch "The Tonight Show." Between slamming Conan in the press when he's contractually forbidden to respond and the tacky "Get back to where you once belonged" commercials for Leno, NBC's behavior has bordered on the shameless.

If you've ever actually been fired, don't watch "The Tonight Show." For someone who considers himself a man of the people, Leno's whining about how NBC "fired" him twice has been surprisingly tone deaf. Especially considering he doesn't even need the job, as he boasts of living solely off his stand-up money. Millions of Americans, including Conan, have genuinely lost their jobs over the past two years; Leno had his start time moved forward, then back, by 95 minutes.

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