Conan – Late Night TV

Tom McMullen

On Tuesday 12th January 2010, @tommcmullenjr said: replyConan v001 – Conan says No to 1/2-hour change – issues elegant statement – It’s a great statement. Clever, sincere, logical, sincere again, clever again. A great read.

I used to like to read the volumes of collected letters written in English by the 18th century French philosopher and freethinker, Voltaire. Not written in French and translated into English, but written by Voltaire in English. Voltaire, famous for, among other things, writing the comedic philosophical novel, Candide, wrote elegantly in his native French language, but also in English. Why was I returning over and over again to read 200-year-old letters? Because they were cool. Smart and cool. Elegant, but not in an overly-elaborate hifalutin’ way. Elegant in that they were smart, cool, clear, clever, and refreshing. Conan’s statement is that cool. It’s one of the biggest and most visible moments in his career and life. Who knows how it will turn out. But he’s marked the moment nicely with today’s communique. ★★✔★★ I found a copy of his full statement on the internet. He released it early this afternoon, January 12, 2010. He’s responding to NBC’s offer to move his version of The Tonight Show one-half hour from 11:35 pm or so to after midnite, to 12:05 a.m., this to allow Jay Leno to move his show from 10 pm back to the 11:35 pm timeslot. Anyway, here’s the statement. ★★✔★★ People of Earth: In the last few days, I’ve been getting a lot of sympathy calls, and I want to start by making it clear that no one should waste a second feeling sorry for me. For 17 years, I’ve been getting paid to do what I love most and, in a world with real problems, I’ve been absurdly lucky. That said, I’ve been suddenly put in a very public predicament and my bosses are demanding an immediate decision. Six years ago, I signed a contract with NBC to take over The Tonight Show in June of 2009. Like a lot of us, I grew up watching Johnny Carson every night and the chance to one day sit in that chair has meant everything to me. I worked long and hard to get that opportunity, passed up far more lucrative offers, and since 2004 I have spent literally hundreds of hours thinking of ways to extend the franchise long into the future. It was my mistaken belief that, like my predecessor, I would have the benefit of some time and, just as important, some degree of ratings support from the prime-time schedule. Building a lasting audience at 11:30 is impossible without both. But sadly, we were never given that chance. After only seven months, with my Tonight Show in its infancy, NBC has decided to react to their terrible difficulties in prime-time by making a change in their long-established late night schedule. Last Thursday, NBC executives told me they intended to move the Tonight Show to 12:05 to accommodate the Jay Leno Show at 11:35. 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. Also, if I accept this move I will be knocking the Late Night show, which I inherited from David Letterman and passed on to Jimmy Fallon, out of its long-held time slot. That would hurt the other NBC franchise that I love, and it would be unfair to Jimmy. 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. 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. Have a great day and, for the record, I am truly sorry about my hair; it’s always been that way. Yours, Conan ★★✔★★ Source: http://www.movieline.com/2010/01/breaking-conan-obrien-rejects-nbcs-offer—-the-full-statement.php ★★✔★★ There are a few key facts that, as far as I can tell, have not been made public yet. – Like what’s Conan’s contract with NBC say about what, if any, changes they are able to make to Conan’s Tonight Show deal – Like, if NBC forces a change they’re not allowed in the contract, do they still pay Conan$20 million per year for 4 years anyway? – Like, if he goes to Fox, do they still pay for four year? – Like, what’s their deal with Leno? Paying him what per year, for how long, whether he stayed at 10 pm, moved to another time, stopped working, or went to another network? An entertainment news show yesterday called this situation NBC’s “80 million mistake” and NBC still had “4 years of $20 million per year” in the contract. If they’re already calling it a “mistake,” I’m thinking maybe they aren’t allowed to make changes to Conan’s deal, maybe they have to make changes to work with Jay Leno’s situation and the NBC affiliates, maybe they knew/know Conan won’t accept those changes, and maybe that all means Conan gets the 20 mil/year whether he works or not. who knows? what do i know? interesting, though, to try to read the tea leaves and then see how things turn out … In reading Conan’s statement, it seems like Conan’s just taking a “steady as she goes” and “just say no” and “sometimes just doing nothing is the right approach” strategy. He’s saying, I always wanted to do the Johnny Carson Tonight Show, I had a contract 6 years ago that said that was the plan for 2009, I still have a contract to do that for four more years, that’s still what I want to do, I hope NBC will just let me keep doing it, if not, then I don’t know what I’ll do … … which returns us to the question of what can NBC change and what do they have to pay if they make changes they’re not allowed anyway … is that entertainment tv news show right? is Conan’s statement trying to prevent NBC from making an $80 million mistake? Conan’s statement suggests he’s negotiating from strengths. Money he already has. Contract he already has. Audience/fans he already has. Possibility of going to Fox. I guess we can all stay tuned and see how this turns out. Possibilities: 1. Conan stays where he is doing The Tonight Show like he’s been doing it. That’s what he says he wants. If that happens, it’s hard to see what works for Jay. 2. NBC says, ok, Conan, bye-bye, and Jay’s back for a full hour beginning at 11:35, back as The Tonight Show. Conan either stops working or, more likely, as rumored a bit, goes to Fox and competes with Jay and Letterman. I’m thinking it’s the first one. Least damage to NBC. Maintain strong Conan-Fallon 1-2 punch against Dave, pre-empt Fox from coming in on perceived weakness at 11:35 maybe using Conan to do it … at cost of losing Jay in the lineup and whatever walking money he gets from his contract. I like all those guys: Conan, Jay, Fallon, Carson, Dave, Craig, the prior Craig (Kilborne), George lately. Never got to know Kimmel very well.  He’s probobly good too.  Anyway, like Conan said, they’ve all made out pretty well for themselves.  We can cheer for the winners and not need to consider any of them losers. We’ll see … Original twitlonger post: http://tl.gd/3ff1h

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