Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Last Word

Wow. This is really damn powerful stuff:

"So it has come to this: I cannot express in words how much I enjoy hosting this program and what an enormous personal disappointment it is for me to consider losing it. My staff and I have worked unbelievably hard and we are very proud of our contribution to the legacy of The Tonight Show. But I cannot participate in what I honestly believe is its destruction. Some people will make the argument that with DVRs and the Internet a time slot doesn't matter. But with the Tonight Show, I believe nothing could matter more."

Honestly, Conan's entire letter is the Quote of the Week.

The Huffington Post: Conan Makes Statement: I Will Not Follow Jay Leno at 12:05am/1.12.10

(Update: I said the same thing on Facebook but I'm reprinting it here: Leno has to step aside. Right now it's honestly the only way he can save face. Conan just ruined it for him; he's won the PR war. Conan looks like a victim of NBC no matter what now and Leno looks like the spoiler which means that Leno is tainted in the eyes of the public, even if it's NBC's astonishing incompetence that helped make him that way. If Leno bows out, he'll be remembered fondly and, yes, may have a chance to do something else career-wise if he chooses. If he stays, his legacy will always be pitch black. He'll be the guy who cared more about his own ego than the legend that is The Tonight Show. Conan's class, humor and, most importantly, humility just handed both Leno and NBC a shit sandwich.)

(Update, 7:27pm: Never one to show a little class and dignity and wait until the proverbial body gets cold, NBC is reportedly already in talks to return Jay Leno officially to The Tonight Show now that Conan has announced that he's out. If there's any justice at all in the universe, 30 Rock will be hit by a meteor -- but barring that, I really hope nobody watches this travesty. TMZ: The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, the Sequel/1.12.10)


Jadine said...

Right fuckin' on, Conan.

The other Fred said...

I'm disappointed in NBC for sullying the "Tonight Show" brand as is Conan. Steve Allen, Jack Paar and Johnny Carson are all rolling in their graves right now. And if Leno takes back that show, which I'm sure he will, then he clearly has no respect for that franchise, the past hosts or even himself.

Chez said...

It's like NBC is being run by ten-year-olds. They have to understand that Leno is now damaged goods. If Conan leaves and Leno is put back on Tonight, the show won't be the hit it was before Leno left -- NBC has sullied the entire name of the show and absolutely tainted Leno. Conan just responded with class, humor and most of all, humility. Leno at this point will be seen as nothing but ego, no matter what he says or does short of telling NBC that he's taking himself out of consideration for an 11:35 slot of any kind.

d-rap said...

Class act, all the way. Leno should take a lesson.

em said...

Apart from the whole "Leno Sucks" thing that I believe, doesn't NBC realize that it's fucking pointless to have a "Tonight" show that doesn't air...tonight?

...and really, this is what a man who *truly* values what he does (and respects the people who help him do his job day after day) should respond.

GirlsWearingMyJersey said...

It's nice to know that in this whole NBC debacle, Conan still has kept his integrity. NBC and Jay can go EFF themselves. Honestly, they don't deserve a talent like Conan!

Capt Aclow said...

That was an A+ letter and an A+ decision. So powerful.

Conan IS the future of late-night, and this has got to be somewhat damaging to Leno and to the Tonight Show.

I never watched Leno on a regular basis but I'd flip on the monologue occasionally if it was on. It'd feel like a betrayal to do that now, at least that's how it feels at the moment.

And Conan's monologue last night was so brutal knocking NBC. Hilarious...

Anonymous said...

I never liked Leno all that much.

Yet, I always liked Conan.

No fucking wonder.

Jim said...

Right on! A powerful moment of truth being spoke to bullshit.

burtcarter said...

I remember way back in the days of old watching Jay Leno on Letterman with the "What's my Beef" segments and thinking how funny they were and he was. Jay Leno hasn't become less funny over the years but he has become boring and boring entertainers need to fade away gracefully.

I wonder if he looks back on those days and has any regrets or if his stroke and large bank account just obscures it all?

Jen said...

Hell yes. NBC doesn't deserve that man. Conan, go start your own network Oprah-style - and put it on cable so you can be naughty.

Anonymous said...

As far as Conan being a class act, please. He sat around during the writers strike and jacked off while his entire staff scrambled around trying to make some money somewhere.

Oh yeah, that's just the absolute pinnacle and height of class, to take a shit over those that work for you when the times are tough.

Leno paid his people during the writers strike, out of his own pocket, yet he is the one who isn't a class act?

Yeah, right.

I doubt this will be posted as sadly Chez has become notorious for only posting sycophantish type comments, never allowing dissenting views to be seen, which as I sad is sad.

Chez said...

You're talking out of your ass since you couldn't possibly have any idea what does and doesn't get posted around here.

For the record, I gave Leno A LOT of credit on this site for his behavior during the Writer's Strike and I defended him vigorously when the WGA tried to target him for essentially doing the right thing and keeping his people employed during the strike. I thought that took a lot of class and a lot of balls and I commend him for it. Unfortunately, it doesn't change what's happening now. No one's ever said Leno isn't a nice guy -- but it doesn't change the fact that he still has an ego that he feels has been bruised and it's blinding him to the right choice here -- really THE ONLY way he can proceed that won't wind up making things worse even for him.

Incidentally, basically daring me to print your comment like you're some 12-year-old on a playground won't goad me into doing the opposite of what you claim.

Jester said...

Jay isn't a nice guy, or an ego guy. He's a path-of-least-resistance guy. He hates change, and he hates conflict even more.

He just kind of walked onto The Tonight Show, letting others do his bulldogging for him. Once he had it, it was path of least resistance to sign the "six more years" contract in 2003. At that time, six more years probably sounded like a lot.

Paying his writers during the strike was a path-of-least-resistance, avoid conflict move. He didn't produce his own show the way Dave does, so he couldn't take that option.

When 2009 started looming close, you could see that he hated the idea of leaving, but no-conflict, path-of-least-resistance made him walk out the door.

The same tendency made him stay when NBC offered him a third-rate substitute job. Going to Fox or doing something on cable or actually innovating aren't path-of-least-resistance jobs. Staying with safe, tried and true NBC was.

And now the same tendency has landed him in this mess. He's probably tearing his hair out over this. Unless someone else bulldogs him out of it, is the path of least resistance to quit? Or to just hide behind NBC's skirts until Conan does?

Either way, Chez, you're absolutely right. Knocking over Dave was bad, but forgivable. Knocking over Dave and Arsenio was a coincidence, and a little slimy. No matter his tendencies or motivations, knocking over Dave and Arsenio AND Conan looks like a pattern. Even if he declares to God and everyone that it's not.

Michael J. West said...

I had, at first, blamed Leno a lot more for this. But I did go back and read articles that took the fault off his shoulders. That leaving the Tonight Show was not his idea, for example, but NBC's decision to prevent Conan from walking. And that when Jay implied he would entertain offers from other networks for the 11:35 slot, they had to react. (Although that doesn't make it less stupid that they reacted with the miserable 10 pm show.) Any way you slice it, it's NBC that fucked up - at every turn, no less.

And yet, and yet.

It no longer matters, methinks. O'Brien struck while the iron was hot, and as of right now there is one person who puts his colleagues and the legacy of the Tonight Show before himself...and it ain't Leno. The rest is besides the point.

Vermillion said...

Ecch...it is always "Anonymous", ain't it?

I'm sitting here, pondering the casting for "The Late Shift 2: Shift These", and it dawned on me...

This country must be in one hell of a tailspin when the host of "The Tonight Show" doesn't have job security.

Funnily enough, it reminds me of the whole bailout mess: you have the "unkillable" show, and the host that sends it soaring on a bubble of ratings. But now, when the bubble bursts, the best anyone in charge can think to do is throw more money at the people that got them in the mess to begin with, while the folks actually trying to fix it are pushed away and ignored.

Damn, makes you almost wish for the days of Brandon Tartikoff, don't it?

greenveldt said...

To Anonymous:
Conan did pay his staff during the writer's strike out of his own pocket. And O'Brien did it first - Leno did so after some people in his staff complained that he wasn't following in Conan's lead.

Letterman also paid the staff of his Late Show and the staff of the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.

Anonymous said...


You claim that Conan was the first to pay his staff during the writers strike and that Leno refused to do so at first and then only did so reluctantly, bitching and whining all the while.

Prove it.

Link to the evidence.