Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Fuck You, Conan

No, I'm not going to write anything lengthy on this because I already have. Many, many times, it seems, but certainly recently.

Here's the official word from late night TV authority Bill Carter over at the Times:

"'The Tonight Show' will begin a new era in February when Jimmy Fallon succeeds Jay Leno as host of the most storied and successful program in late-night television.

NBC plans to announce on Wednesday its plan to install Mr. Fallon as the show’s sixth host at the conclusion of the network’s coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympics from Sochi, Russia. NBC also is to confirm reports that it plans to shake up the axes of the television industry by moving the show from its longtime home in Los Angeles to its birthplace, New York.

The announcement comes after weeks of news media reports that the changes were imminent and speculation about behind-the-scenes friction between NBC and Mr. Leno. Tensions between the two stretch back to Mr. Leno’s first departure from “Tonight” in 2009 and the tumultuous transition to Conan O’Brien that followed. That move ended with Mr. O’Brien leaving the network after eight months on the show and Mr. Leno resuming his role as host.

But Mr. Leno said in an interview: 'The main difference between this and the other time is I’m part of the process. The last time the decision was made without me. I came into work one day and — you’re out.' This time around 'there really aren’t any complications like there were the last time,' he added. 'This time it feels right.'"

There's no reason to hammer Leno any more than he's already been hammered, but suffice it to say that there's one problem with his assessment of the situation: It doesn't allow for that inevitable pang that he's going to feel as the time of the transition gets closer. Leno lives for the job. He always has. I guarantee you he can't imagine a life in which he wasn't waking up and going to work at Tonight every morning before the rest of the staff has even arrived. It's just who he is.

Granted, he could certainly tour to satisfy that inexhaustible work jones, but there's always the possibility that he could, at the last minute, begin talking to another network about a show in competition with NBC. No one's saying anyone would go after Jay hardcore at this point in his career, but it's not out of the question. I'm betting that, despite their regular demonstrations of mind-boggling incompetence, NBC's upper managers have already made Leno sign a non-compete, just to cover their asses.

Anyway, there's always the possibility that this is a "here we go again," but I think everyone's just sick as hell of that by now, including Leno himself. As for Fallon, he's the ultimate NBC lapdog, so I can't see him doing anything at all to screw this up -- including getting himself involved in any kind of resulting drama.

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