I have to say that I’m one of the many people who are saddened that Conan O’Brien is leaving his Tonight Show post on NBC. I do not understand what NBC is doing. Forcing out the popular O’Brien is certainly not the solution that will lead back to successful ratings for the battered network.
Jay Leno and his lacklustre show have no support. Leno is hurting himself by wanting to go back in the way he’s going back. Not only is he going back with bad publicity, he’s going back on bad momentum with his dismal ratings. He only has the support of NBC for as long as he can deliver on the ratings.
If he doesn’t deliver, why would a corporation such as NBC suddenly start supporting an entertainer out of loyalty? Leno is taking just as big a risk for himself as NBC is taking on him. He’ll have to reinvent himself for a second time, which is a difficult task.
Conan O’Brien has the support of his peers, not to mention the support on the show from his guests and in the press, and the support of his friends. Leno has the support of his company, which is tentative support at best.
O’Brien’s material is also much funnier now because he has the benefit of not worrying about pissing off his employers. Not only is Conan’s own material hilarious because he’s insulting NBC, his guests aren’t holding anything back either. All last week, guests such as Ricky Gervais, Adam Sandler and Robin Williams were insulting NBC on his show.
I’m confused as to why Leno feels he still needs to be on television as a late night talk show host. He truly does good work outside the late night as an automotive expert. I’ve seen him on the Discovery Channel talking about various types of cars and motorcycles. He could easily do very well hosting a car show and, at this point in time, he would probably do better as a car expert than a comedian.
Everyone has quickly forgotten that before the transition of the Tonight Show, O’Brien and Leno were complimenting and thanking each other at the end of their finales. Their friendship was publicly destroyed so quickly that it doesn’t matter anymore.
If NBC wants to boost its ratings, then they have chosen the worst possible scenario to do so. O’Brien is leaving due to bad circumstances, but he’s exiting in the most positive manner he can muster, while Leno’s return is portrayed as all bad. Instead of accepting the fact that his Jay Leno Show tanked and walking away quietly, he has chosen to rob O’Brien of the opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream as host of the Tonight Show.
If I were a betting man, I would say that Leno won’t last a year when he returns with all that negativity surrounding him.
Matty Rygiel is a member of Team Coco.
Published in Volume 64, Number 17 of The Uniter (January 28, 2010)