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October 7, 2015

Point/Counterpoint: The Tonight Show will fail Conan O'Brien

by John Scott Lewinski, posted Jun 1st 2009 7:31PM
conan o'brien's trademark hairdo is en route to 11:30 on the tonight show.Here comes the response to Mr. Zaino's prediction that Conan O'Brien Irish eyes will smile for a long time to come on NBC's The Tonight Show. It's possible the whole deal could turn into a lament.

My argument:
  • It seems more like The Tonight Show isn't the best marriage for Conan O'Brien, rather than the host being wrong for the show. From SNL to The Simpsons to his own Late Night, O'Brien was a driving force in some of the most cutting edge network comedy of the last 15 years. But, The Tonight Show isn't about "cutting edge." It's about something mildly entertaining to watch before folks tuck into bed. It's a waste of O'Brien's chops -- though you can't blame the guy for knocking down the paycheck.
  • Due to lazy NBC programming ideas, O'Brien's popularity could be damaged by his predecessor. No, Jay Leno is in no way out to sabotage his protege. But Leno's upcoming prime time, pre-news lead-in to The Tonight Show seems like overkill. Will audiences want to watch "Leno's old Tonight Show" followed by "O'Brien's new Tonight Show?"
  • O'Brien is trapped no matter what new approach he takes to his version of The Tonight Show. If he waters down his edgier Late Night and kills off The Masturbating Bear, he'll be accused of selling out. But, if Pimpbot or Gaseous Wiener shows up at 11:30, he'll seem too bizarre for his new gig.
  • While Leno shares in some of the responsibility, O'Brien jumping to The Tonight Show will be blamed for allowing Jimmy Fallon to appear on our TV every single weeknight. It will be difficult for the public to forgive that.
  • With people so accustomed to looking at a freakish chin every night for so many years, they will be threatened and frightened away by three-foot hight freakish red hair.
We'll see how it all plays out starting "tonight."

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O'Brien has always had fans and his fans will come to watch his new show. Especially now that your giving them one hour early. The fans of Tonight Show watch Leno because they don't like Letterman. So they will stick to watching the Tonight Show... So at the end of the day Letterman will still lose the Late Night battle.

June 02 2009 at 4:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's hard to explain why I think Conan will attract the _exact_same_audience_ as he already did in his previous slot, so I'll just state my opinion and leave it there. True, David Letterman picked up some audience, but that's because he's David Letterman.

The real question is: Between now and September, how many days will Letterman's ratings be higher than O'Brien's? Leno is out of the picture for the summer, and while the spin masters may try to yap about how the audience is different, the fact is, Letterman wins the battle of late night in a head to head battle with O'Brien.

That said, I don't know how Leno does well in prime time.

June 02 2009 at 1:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Jay Leno is "The Tonight Show". I think viewers will follow him and not the designated "Tonight Show" timeslot. Maybe Conan will do well this summer, but when Jay returns in the fall, Conan will be diluted. It is entirely possible that after watching Jay and the local news, audiences will just go to bed and realize that a 10pm "Tonight Show" is better for their sleep.

June 01 2009 at 9:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Johnzo's comment
Uncle Nothing

"Jay Leno is The Tonight Show".

It's nice that someone under the age of 10 posts here.

See, Johnny Carson was a talk show host before you were born. He hosted "The Tonight Show" for nearly twice as long as Jay did.

They said the same thing when Jay took over for Johnny and when Johnny took over for Jack Paar and when Jack Paar took over for Steve Allen.

June 02 2009 at 10:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

So what exactly is "No, Jay Leno is in now way out to sabotage his protege." supposed to mean. My best guess is that "now" was supposed to be "no."

Am I alone in thinking that Conan is not aging well. That freakish red hair thing might have worked when he was 26 and maybe even 36--but not at 46.

June 01 2009 at 7:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Maven's comment
Joel Keller

Maven, I fixed the typo on John's post. Thanks for pointing that out.

June 01 2009 at 8:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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