The Blog

Conan The Destroyer

In a newly released statement, the host of "The Tonight Show" refuses to budge for Jay Leno. But if you heard O'Brien's monologue last night, this wasn't a surprise.

5:50 PM, Jan 12, 2010 • By VICTORINO MATUS
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

At the very least, the mess that NBC has embroiled itself in will probably cause ratings to rise for both Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien, right up to their final shows next month. How would both men react to the network strife? Would they simply brush over the news or tackle it head on? As it turned out, both Leno and O'Brien addressed the situation in their monologues—the former with a fairly light touch, the latter with a bit more relish. So it wasn't entirely shocking that the current host of The Tonight Show would refuse to make room for Jay Leno and start after midnight. In his statement, O'Brien explained:

Conan The Destroyer

"For 60 years the Tonight Show has aired immediately following the late local news. I sincerely believe that delaying the Tonight Show into the next day to accommodate another comedy program will seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting. The Tonight Show at 12:05 simply isn't the Tonight Show."

True. It would be The Tomorrow Show. Not that O'Brien readily announced he was moving over to Fox: "There has been speculation about my going to another network but, to set the record straight, I currently have no other offer and honestly have no idea what happens next. My hope is that NBC and I can resolve this quickly so that my staff, crew, and I can do a show we can be proud of, for a company that values our work."

But is NBC that company? Safe to say, at the moment, O'Brien doesn't believe so. Some memorable bits from his monologue last night:

(Reacting to prolonged applause and a standing ovation) "Ladies and gentlemen, you keep that up, and this monologue won't start til 12:05. Then where would we be?"

"Good evening, everybody. I'm Conan O'Brien, the new host of Last Call with Carson Daly."

"NBC announced they expect to lose $200 million on the Winter Olympics next month. Yeah. Folks, is it just me, or is that story hilarious?"

Besides starting at 12:05am, the host presented a few other options, such as: "Star in a Lifetime original movie about a woman trapped in an abusive relationship with her network," "Convince NBC to let me keep this time slot if I can gain 10 pounds of chin," "Bring sanity back to NBC by hiring Gary Busey as head of programming," and "Leave television altogether, and work in a classier business with better people, like hard core porn."

Two other thoughts: If O'Brien leaves, we will never know how much of his low ratings were the result of the poor lead-in of The Jay Leno Show versus viewers' preferences for Leno or Letterman over O'Brien at 11:35pm. Second, in retrospect, the decision to scrap dramas entirely from 10pm to 11pm is all the more outrageous when you stop to think of the shows that once filled that slot for NBC over the years: Quincy, Remington Steele, St. Elsewhere, Hill Street Blues, Falcon Crest, L.A. Law, Miami Vice.

Yes, I purposely left out Flamingo Road.

Recent Blog Posts

The Weekly Standard Archives

Browse 19 Years of the Weekly Standard

Old covers