If you didn’t know: I’m a huge Conan fan. I love him. Dude’s hilarious. By now, you’ve all hopefully read the tremendous statement he put out taking a stand against all this nonsense. The internet is abuzz, and almost all of the opinions being vomited forth is pro-Conan. But I’ve been hearing arguments defending Leno and people saying they can see where NBC is coming from. That, in all honesty, is fucking horseshit.
Leno is awful. Not only is he not funny, but he’s an awful human being. A cockholster of the highest order. He helped NBC pull this shit on Letterman (does no one remember The Late Shift?), and now he’s doing it to Conan.
Don’t try to tell me it’s about the ratings. Leno’s ratings were just as weak, if not worse, than Conan’s first (and seemingly only) 7 months on the job. Leno said so himself. I’m sure it’s a little different in TV, but in radio, they tell you that when a new show launches, you don’t even look at ratings for a year and a half. They don’t count, because you don’t know what the show will evolve into.
You’ve got to settle in, find your identity as a program, and people have to find you on the radio. That takes time. When we launched K&M in the summer of 2005, we didn’t receive any real notes on the ratings until the winter of 2006; and in that time we went from a show with 5 people with the focus being your typical “fat jerks” program heavy on crank calls to a PG-13 “dysfunctional family” show with 4 people and virtually NO crank calls.
Remember: we’re just a dumb radio show. This is the freakin’ TONIGHT SHOW we’re talking about. They’re at the point where they’re throwing shit at the wall and seeing what sticks. The show’s is still in its infancy, and they don’t know what they can get away with yet, or what the 11:30 crowd will roll with. Also, Leno was getting crushed by Letterman for 2 FUCKING YEARS before he snagged Hugh Grant as a guest right after his hooker scandal and the ratings swung his way.
Yes, he kept those ratings. But aren’t all people creatures of habit? I think so, especially when they’re getting ready to go to sleep, and most people have been using the Tonight Show as background noise during sex with their spouse for 40+ years. And I’m positive you can blame Conan’s ratings on Leno and that botched abortion of a show he’s bailing on at 10pm.
Think about it: You’re laying down for the night at 10:10pm, you flip on the TV. What are you going to watch? Leno and his historically awful show, or a drama on another channel, like the awesome Sons of Anarchy on FX, or whatever’s on at CBS? You’re not going to go with Leno. If you say you are, you’re lying. Dude lost to Spongebob in the ratings last month. It’s a terribly unfunny show, it’s like watching a puppy getting raped by a vulture.
No, you’re going to lie down and watch something else. Let’s say for argument’s sake it’s ABC, because you’re a horrendous person and enjoy Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice. You watch it, you’re sleepy, but you keep the TV on. Hey, the local news is coming up, and there was a Store 24 clerk that got shot in the face! Channel 5’s got exclusive video! Sold!
You don’t change the channel, and end up falling asleep to Jimmy Kimmel. Do you watch it or enjoy it? No. But Jimmy Kimmel’s getting credit for it. All because you (or anyone else) couldn’t stand to watch Leno at 10. AND CONAN GETS SCREWED. The local news has no lead-in audience, thusly the Tonight Show is getting crushed. This has been happening all over the country. The ratings are not Conan’s fault; they fall right on Leno’s chin.
The worst part about this is that Leno said he’d step aside, and then didn’t do it. He whined and complained until those spineless asshole NBC executives gave him the 10pm show. Then he openly campaigned to get the 11:30pm slot back, only a few months into Conan’s reign. WHAT. AN. ASSHOLE. Yes, NBC made this mess when they promised Conan the Tonight Show back when he was between contracts and was being wooed by FOX, but then they tried to backtrack and screwed the entire pooch again. The Tonight Show belongs to Conan.
Leno’s a cock-smoking snake, but yet again, so is NBC. They should go back to regular programming after the Olympics with a 10pm drama (everybody forgets to mention this, but Leno had the greatest lead-ins of all time in that slot during his Tonight Show heyday: Law in Order back in its prime and a little show called ER) and give Conan the rightful chance to succeed. He hasn’t been given a fair shake yet, and if NBC goes forth with this plan to bump him, we should all follow Coco wherever he goes. Leno doesn’t deserve the Tonight Show.
Patton Oswalt had a great take on it, too:
(By the way, big clink to The Warming Glow; Matt does a bang-up job covering this fiasco, along with all of your other TV news.)