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    Default Sequel to The Late Shift, The War For Late Night, released

    The Conan/Jay thread was closed, thought I would open this up to see if the discussion could be more focused and less "cesspool"-like now that the author of the Late Shift (Bill Carter) has now written this book.

    From Yahoo:

    I always liked Conan. How does he come off?
    Smart, sympathetic, and a bit naïve. Carter supplies some key contextual scenes. As a young Saturday Night Live writer, Conan sneaks into Letterman’s Late Night studio and sits in his hero’s chair, imagining himself as Dave’s heir. We also see Conan balking at a lucrative writing career on The Simpsons because he wants to be a performer. In 1993, he infuriates SNL capo Lorne Michaels by turning down a job as producer and writer on NBC’s new, post-Letterman Late Night show, leading Michaels, after a time, to tap Conan to host the thing . . .

    How devastated was Conan when Jay took back The Tonight Show?
    “Shattered to his last bone,” writes Carter. When Letterman asks him to star in the olive-branch Super Bowl ad that later featured Oprah Winfrey and Leno, Conan says, “No fucking way I’m doing that. It’s not a joke to me—it’s real.”

    Is Jay Leno evil?
    No.

    Really?
    It’s a myth. Here’s the real story as Carter sees it: Jay gets bumped from Tonight. Then NBC gives him an insane offer: five nights a week in prime time doing a similar show. Leno takes the offer. When that show fails miserably and Conan’s ratings falter, NBC asks him if he’ll take his old time slot back. Jay says yes.

    That’s it—the extent of Jay’s involvement. Carter’s reportorial nose can’t sniff a single dirty machination against Conan, or an ounce of undue pressure applied to the network. Leno didn’t even have an agent. Conan had Ari Emanuel [the real-life agent Ari Gold, Jeremy Piven's character on Entourage, is based on].

    But Conan and Dave and Jimmy Kimmel and everyone on the Internet blasted Jay. For weeks. How could they all be wrong?
    It’s a funny thing about late-night TV. Everybody is still pissed off about the time in 1992 when Jay beat out Dave for The Tonight Show. Carter calls that event the “original sin,” and it looms over late night just like Eve’s apple-craving looms over a Calvinist.

    According to the Gospel of Dave, Jay is the jerk who took Letterman’s dream job and insists on staying on TV despite the fact that everybody hates him. Conan, as noted above, is a Letterman guy. Kimmel is also a Letterman guy—the license plate of his first car read “L8 NITE.” Letterman is a Letterman guy.

    But even if we stipulate that it was Jay and not NBC that screwed Dave out of The Tonight Show—a highly debatable proposition—it has been 18 years since this happened. And what did the world suffer? Dave walked to CBS, where he made more than Jay’s annual salary, took ownership of his show, and treated his network bosses with contempt. No one in America was deprived of seeing Dave Letterman do exactly what he wanted with an 11:35 television program.

    Fast-forwarding 18 years, for all of his public suffering Conan collected a $32 million severance from NBC, millions more from TBS, and, starting tonight, will put together exactly the show he wants on another network. At some point, the 1992 stuff has to be put to rest. Yes, Jay is chronically unfunny. But no, he’s not a monster.


    From Mediaite:

    . . . Ron Meyer, Universal Studios President. . . brokered a last minute deal among all sides that would keep Conan at NBC. He called Jeff Zucker, gave him 10 minutes to give the go-ahead, and when that expired, Conan was gone. So basically this movie will be even better than The Late Shift.

    Actual quotes from ABC:

    On O'Brien's reaction when NBC executives asked him to start "The Tonight Show" at 12:05 a.m. so Leno could do a half-hour-long show before him:
    Conan did have something he really wanted to say, something that had been almost burning a hole in his chest. "What does Jay have on you?" Conan asked, his voice still low, his tone still even. "What does this guy have on you people? What the hell is it about Jay?" Neither of the NBC executives has an answer. They cast their heads down. Conan thought they were working at looking sympathetic, following some lesson that had been taught at corporate school.

    On Jeff Zucker's (NBC's then president and CEO) exchange with Richard Rosen (O'Brien's agent) about O'Brien not jumping at the midnight deal:
    "Let me explain something to you," Zucker said. "I want a f***ing answer from you. If you think you are going to play me in the press, you've got the wrong guy. You're a representative of Conan O'Brien, aren't you?" ... "I want an answer from Conan and I want an answer quickly. You know I have the ability to pay him or play him, and I could ice him for two years." . . .

    On how O'Brien felt in the wake of "Team Coco" and his massive online following:
    The outpouring of support made Conan feel as if he was starring in his own version of the movie "It's a Wonderful Life," both because he was allowed to see a "Tonight Show" where he never existed and because the support made him realize he really was "the richest man in town."

    On Leno's penchant for Payless shoes:
    He was a creature of habit so ingrained that he was rarely seen offstage in anything but the same denim work shirt, faded jeans, and $14.99 pair of black Payless SafeTStep work shoes. These, Jay explained, he bought "by the crate" because they were "impervious to oil and gas" -- a feature important to him because of all the time he spent working on the fleet of vehicles in his automotive shop in a converted hangar at the Burbank airport.

    On Leno's foray into comedy:
    This was a guy who in fourth grade had been hit on the head with a hammer by a kid who thought anyone with a head that big must surely have a skull made of granite. Bleeding, Leno assured the class he was fine -- though it hurt like hell. He got a big laugh, which made the pain pass more quickly.

    On Letterman's anger issues:
    Letterman directed most of his anger and disgust at himself. In the old days the staff would often hear him in his office battering his stereo equipment with a baseball bat, all of them wondering, "Is he mad at me? Did he not like my joke, or my segment?" But when one of the producers would work up the nerve to walk in and ask him if everything was all right, Dave would say, "I hate myself. I'm the biggest asshole in the world. Look how I messed this up."

    On Letterman's psychological issues:
    Many of those closest to Dave urged him to seek some help, get counseling of some kind, maybe visit a psychiatrist. But that idea always unsettled him. One member of his inner circle said, "Every time I brought up over the years that he ought to see a shrink, he always had the same reaction: 'I wouldn't be as funny.' There was probably no question that he was right." For the same reason Dave resisted recommendations that some kind of medication might help.


    From the Daily Beast:

    So what does Carter miss?
    That Conan’s Tonight show was completely unwatchable with the exception of his final weeks. This rocks the whole narrative: Jay’s show is terrible, Dave’s show is mediocre, and Conan’s wasn’t much better. They all stink. Late night in 2010 was a battle to see who could maintain his bad comedy show.

    So the lesson of this war is what? That comedy isn’t the reason we still care about late night?
    There are many of us who want late night to be funny. But absent that, what’s captivating about it—and Carter is partly responsible for this—is its big moral battles. Jay vs. Dave. Conan vs. Jay. Jay vs. Dave, Round 2. There’s no part of TV that is treated quite like this, not the network newscasts, the morning shows, the Sunday political roundtables, nothing. The magic of that little moment in 2010 is that it reduced a lot of unruly elements like demographics and lead-ins and the splintering of the network audience to a pure mano-a-mano comedian rumble—may the most cutting joke win.

    As Carter notes, even Jay—the most guileless one—told a joke about Dave’s poor wife. And you know what? It was funny.


    Bill Carter on MSNBC's Morning Joe discussing the book: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3036789/...87168#40087168

  2. #2
    Atomic Punk MF5150's Avatar
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    I will definitely be reading this book!

    How about NBC pays Jay a nice severance (similar to the on Coco got) and they just start over. In March, you get the very first TONIGHT SHOW. The only version of the TONIGHT SHOW that ever mattered. Get the first episode (even if there is no video footage from the show; only audio) and air it. Then go day by day episode by episode for 30+ years. I'd stay up EVERY night to see what I missed out on for 25+ years. Bring Johnny, Ed and Doc back.
    Last edited by MF5150; 11.10.10 at 03:01 PM.
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    Atomic Punk LLFHS's Avatar
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    Okay then....phone up Betty Thomas to return as director, Daniel Roebuck as Jay Leno, the dude with the red hair who was never seen again as Letterman (bit part this time, to be sure).......

    Who should play Conan?
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    Atomic Punk MF5150's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LLFHS View Post
    Okay then....phone up Betty Thomas to return as director, Daniel Roebuck as Jay Leno, the dude with the red hair who was never seen again as Letterman (bit part this time, to be sure).......

    Who should play Conan?
    John Michael Higgins played Letterman. The guy is actually pretty god damned funny.

    I recommend that you watch Jiminy Glick in Lalawood. Higgins spits out some of the funniest lines. Overall a pretty stupid movie but Higgins is fantastic.
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    I disagree that Late Night 2010 wasn't funny.

    Conan is Hilarious when allowed to be conan. And the tonight show started to get really good his last 3 months or so.
    Letterman was on fire in a way we havent seen in years
    Kimmel is always pretty good and usually says what the others wont
    Fallon is coming into is own and is getting funnier by the episode
    Furgeson can be really funny at times

    The only guy not funny for my taste was Leno.

  6. #6
    Atomic Punk lovemachine97(Version 2)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LLFHS View Post
    Okay then....phone up Betty Thomas to return as director, Daniel Roebuck as Jay Leno, the dude with the red hair who was never seen again as Letterman (bit part this time, to be sure).......

    Who should play Conan?
    Tilda Swinton


  7. #7
    Forum Frontman It's Mike's Avatar
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    i just listened to an interview with him, it's nice to hear someone in the press talk about this who doesn't feel the need to make Jay the evil guy here for having the nerve to take back the show that was stolen from him.

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    Forum Frontman It's Mike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MF5150 View Post
    I will definitely be reading this book!

    How about NBC pays Jay a nice severance (similar to the on Coco got) and they just start over. In March, you get the very first TONIGHT SHOW. The only version of the TONIGHT SHOW that ever mattered. Get the first episode (even if there is no video footage from the show; only audio) and air it. Then go day by day episode by episode for 30+ years. I'd stay up EVERY night to see what I missed out on for 25+ years. Bring Johnny, Ed and Doc back.
    NBC was scared shitless that if they fired Leno when they gave the show to Conan that he would have gone to ABC and kicked their asses every night. There's every reason to believe that he would have done just that. And why wouldn't he? What did he do to get fired?

    In hindsight, they should have let Conan walk years ago and not promise him the Tonight Show. As Jerry Seinfeld says in the book "what kind of idiot cancels you when you're #1?" and that's what NBC did to Leno. By doing that they (1) hurt their 11:30 ratings as Dave kicked Conan's ass, (2) killed 10 pm as Jay's show didn't translate at all (3) had to pay Conan 30+ mil to leave (4) hurt Leno at 11:30 by giving him back a damaged franchise and (5) stll don't have a 10 pm hit - Leno's crappy ratings were better then what they have now.

  9. #9
    Atomic Punk LLFHS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by It's Mike View Post
    There's every reason to believe that he would have done just that.
    Not really. Leno's been getting his ass handed to him pretty consistently since his return to The Tonight Show, in fact from what I understand they're even lower now than Conan's Tonight Show at its worst point. What would've been better about putting him on ABC?
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    Atomic Punk lovemachine97(Version 2)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LLFHS View Post
    Not really. Leno's been getting his ass handed to him pretty consistently since his return to The Tonight Show, in fact from what I understand they're even lower now than Conan's Tonight Show at its worst point. What would've been better about putting him on ABC?
    With information from TV By the Numbers:

    Conan night 1 and 2: Conan premiered to 4.2 million viewers and a 2.5 rating in the key demo. By night 2, those had fallen to 2.8 million viewers and a 1.6 rating in the demo, a drop off of 33% and 36%, respectively.

    Year to the day, for the first 6 weeks of the season, the Tonight Show is in MUCH better shape than last year under Conan: Last year at this time the Late Show was beating the Tonight Show by 73% (4.363 million vs. 2.522 million) for the season. This year, the Tonight Show is leading by 2% (3.642 million vs. 3.574 million), a 75-point turnaround. In the key demo, the Tonight Show is leading the Late show by a 3% margin (1.228 million vs. 1.194 million), a reversal from a year ago when Letterman was beating Conan by a 5% margin (1.409 million vs. 1.348 million). That also means that over all, the Tonight Show has only lost 9% of its key demo viewers while the Late Show has lost 15%.


    As the book points out, ALL of these guys--Conan, Kimmel, Fallon, and of course Carson and Letterman--are/were "Letterman guys". Everyone hated that Leno got the Tonight Show in the first place, or as the author called it, the "original sin," and everybody still hates it. Why? Well, 1) they thought Letterman should have always had it, but 2) Leno changed in order to have mass appeal--he became the McDonald's hamburger of comedy, so to speak. So, not only did he get the show he wasn't supposed to, he ended up kicking the ass of the guy who "should" have gotten it by "selling out". But the business plan worked. Leno was an affable guy, no guests were off limits, he worked hard, towed the company line, and the Tonight Show became a HUGELY profitable entity.

    Everybody's true colors came out when Conan attacked Leno, Letterman attacked Leno, and Kimmel attacked Leno. In turn, fans turned against Leno, who got made out to look like a player who backstabbed to get his job back. He STILL looks like the bad guy, which has hurt his ratings, along with the fact that NBC is a tarnished brand and that they still don't have a strong 10:00pm lineup (Leno's ratings were much higher the year prior to Conan, and their 10:00pm lineup sucked then, too).

    I like everyone's shows, and I can even stand Letterman every so often (but in very, very small doses). But, as I argued in the previous thread, and as Mike has pointed out, and now that this "team" stuff has subsided, the real story is this:

    Leno got fired for being number 1, got a ridiculous offer to stay because NBC didn't want him to go somewhere else and kick their ass, so he stayed. The bosses decided to let his replacement go because of falling numbers and offered Jay his job back. He took it. Jay's no monster, not even close. Jeff Zucker is just an idiot.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lovemachine97(Version 2) View Post

    Leno got fired for being number 1, Correct

    got a ridiculous offer to stay because NBC didn't want him to go somewhere else and kick their ass, so he stayed.Correct

    The bosses decided to let his replacement go because of falling numbers and offered Jay his job back.Correct

    He took it. Jay's no monster, not even close. Opinion

    Jeff Zucker is just an idiot.Correct
    The one part of the equation pro-Jay people usually fail to acknowledge is between Jay, Dave and Conan, Jay is the only one who didn't tell the network suits to fuck off.

    Quite the contrary; Jay comes off as a yes-man. He comes off as a spineless ass-kisser who will take it up the tailpipe for NBC all for the sake of ... what? Having a job? Manning the Tonight Show? What's his motivation for laying down for the boss?

    So, is Jay a monster? Probably not. But he seems like a guy with zero integrity.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LLFHS View Post
    Not really. Leno's been getting his ass handed to him pretty consistently since his return to The Tonight Show, in fact from what I understand they're even lower now than Conan's Tonight Show at its worst point. What would've been better about putting him on ABC?

    not at all. There's no reason in the world to think that Conan wouldn't have been behind both Leno and Letterman had Jay been canned. Leno kicked Letterman's ass for years and the show was taken from him. That decision made precious little sense. The decisions that followed were all to help solve the first stupid mistake (replacing Jay)

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    Quote Originally Posted by lovemachine97(Version 2) View Post
    Leno got fired for being number 1, got a ridiculous offer to stay because NBC didn't want him to go somewhere else and kick their ass, so he stayed. The bosses decided to let his replacement go because of falling numbers and offered Jay his job back. He took it. Jay's no monster, not even close. Jeff Zucker is just an idiot.
    You are forgetting the Xfactor of how horrible of a lead-in Jay was. It is hardly an apples to apples comparison. Also after Conan took over the Tonight Show, I never saw one commercial for his show saying who the guests were etc. People said they only aired those during Jay's primetime show, but no one watched it so he also had that going against him. Didn't this all start after Jay said in an interview that he would take his old job back if it were offered to him?

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    Quote Originally Posted by It's Mike View Post
    NBC was scared shitless that if they fired Leno when they gave the show to Conan that he would have gone to ABC and kicked their asses every night. There's every reason to believe that he would have done just that. And why wouldn't he? What did he do to get fired?

    In hindsight, they should have let Conan walk years ago and not promise him the Tonight Show. As Jerry Seinfeld says in the book "what kind of idiot cancels you when you're #1?" and that's what NBC did to Leno. By doing that they (1) hurt their 11:30 ratings as Dave kicked Conan's ass, (2) killed 10 pm as Jay's show didn't translate at all (3) had to pay Conan 30+ mil to leave (4) hurt Leno at 11:30 by giving him back a damaged franchise and (5) stll don't have a 10 pm hit - Leno's crappy ratings were better then what they have now.
    Why is it that we say Jay was FIRED, but nobody ever uses the same terminology in reference to Carson? If Jay was FIRED, which he wasn't exactly, then what the hell did NBC and Leno do to Carson?!? Leno hadn't even been on half the time that Johnny was at the time that it was announced that Jay would be replaced by Conan. Carson was THE guy. He was on for 30+ years and they forced him out. Leno and NBC knew what they were doing back then.

    My opinion is that the franchise, ratings aside, was damaged after NBC and Jay forced Johnny out back in 1991, in my opinion. And I'm sure many would agree with that. Of course at the end of the day, ratings rule so in essence Jay's first stint as host was a huge success. No denying that here.

    Now in regards to the actual SHOWS. Letterman, while his ratings were being beaten by Leno's, has always stayed true to Johnny's brand of late-night and I believe he always will. That's what I appreciate.

    I find Jay's show almost unwatchable. His monologue is the epitome of lame punch-line comedy , to the point where I almost think that he does it on purpose now. His jokes are boring and quite frankly I find him lame. Seems like a nice guy. But LAME. No edge. Nothing. Granted, that's all opinion. To each their own.

    All I can do is watch old clips of THE Tonight Show and compare it to Jay and Dave. And, to me Dave is really, in my mind, the TRUE replacement of Johnny's. Yes, that's my opinion, but it was also Carson's opinion as well.
    Last edited by MF5150; 11.11.10 at 12:46 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MF5150 View Post
    Why is it that we say Jay was FIRED, but nobody ever uses the same terminology in reference to Carson? If Jay was FIRED, which he wasn't exactly, then what the hell did NBC and Leno do to Carson?!? Leno hadn't even been on half the time that Johnny was at the time that it was announced that Jay would be replaced by Conan. Carson was THE guy. He was on for 30+ years and they forced him out. Leno and NBC knew what they were doing back then.


    He was the host of the tonight show and was replaced as host. You can call it what you want but at the end of day it looked like he was fired. He was actually "moved" because they were scared to fire him.

    Leno didn't move Carson out any more than Conan moved Jay out. NBC made those decisions. One of them (moving Carson out at age 67) worked out as the show kept doing well. The other replacing Leno with Conan was a PR nightmare all the way around.


    Quote Originally Posted by MF5150 View Post
    My opinion is that the franchise, ratings aside, was damaged after NBC and Jay forced Johnny out back in 1991, in my opinion. And I'm sure many would agree with that. Of course at the end of the day, ratings rule so in essence Jay's first stint as host was a huge success. No denying that here.
    .

    the way it was handled might have damaged the franchise but not all that much as it continued on for almost 2 decades without him and did very well.

    Quote Originally Posted by MF5150 View Post

    Now in regards to the actual SHOWS. Letterman, while his ratings were being beaten by Leno's, has always stayed true to Johnny's brand of late-night and I believe he always will. That's what I appreciate.

    what does that mean? It stayed true to what?


    Quote Originally Posted by MF5150 View Post

    I find Jay's show almost unwatchable. His monologue is the epitome of lame punch-line comedy , to the point where I almost think that he does it on purpose now. His jokes are boring and quite frankly I find him lame. Seems like a nice guy. But LAME. No edge. Nothing. Granted, that's all opinion. To each their own.

    .

    most find it incredibly watchable (see ratings). Some hate Dave, some hate Conan, some hate Jay. I don't mind all 3 of them. I think Dave's show used to MUCH better than it is though.

    Quote Originally Posted by MF5150 View Post


    All I can do is watch old clips of THE Tonight Show and compare it to Jay and Dave. And, to me Dave is really, in my mind, the TRUE replacement of Johnny's. Yes, that's my opinion, but it was also Carson's opinion as well.

    Michael Jordan didn't get to pick who the Bulls would replace him with when he retired. Carson (the little I saw of him) was fantastic.
    Last edited by It's Mike; 11.11.10 at 01:00 PM.

 

 

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