Thursday, January 14, 2010

The late-night debacle

I haven't really ever used this blog to editorialize because, well, I just don't feel that strongly about a lot of stuff. But there's something going on right now that I do feel strongly about, and it affects my everyday routine. My assignments at work this week have included handling the letters we get from readers, and a lot were about this topic. I'm not going to write in to my own paper, so I guess this is my outlet. I realize there are more pressing world matters at the moment that make this petty, but it's still something on my mind.

You've probably heard about the whole NBC late-night debacle. Due to poor ratings and NBC affiliates being angry that their viewer numbers were down going into the evening news, NBC has decided to discontinue The Jay Leno Show at 10 p.m. NBC wants to move Jay Leno back to 11:35, and push Conan O'Brien and his Tonight Show back to 12:05. (Late Night with Jimmy Fallon would get pushed back an hour too, but I'm focusing on Leno and Conan here.) Saturday Night Live said on its show last week, that it's odd to push "The Tonight Show" back to a time when it is no longer tonight. And they have a point.

Conan has put out a statement that if NBC pushes The Tonight Show back to 12:05, he will not be part of it. He believes that moving the Tonight Show back (to a time when it is no longer tonight...) would destroy the show, and he won't be part of it. So basically at this point, we're looking at what looks like Jay Leno taking back over the Tonight Show at 11:35 and Conan being SOL.

I watched Jay a lot when he was the Tonight Show host. He's pretty good. Once he moved to 10, I stopped watching, because I'm at work, and I'm not interested in DVRing and watching it every night. I know myself, and it would sit on the DVR for months and never get watched, so I don't bother. But I do like Conan a lot, always have, and prefer him to Jay. I like him as host of the Tonight Show. Sure it's different than when Jay hosted. They're two different people with two different styles. I want Conan to stay.

NBC should cut its losses and say so long to Leno. Let him host a car show or something. You signed a contract with Conan, and the late-night-watching public have gotten used to him at the helm. (Although I do know there are lots of people out there too who would rather have Jay back.) But they made a deal. They need to stick with it. At least give Conan more than 7 months before you just usher him out the door. My feeling is that even if Conan leaves and Jay comes back, they're still going to suffer a lot of backlash. Jay will never get the ratings he had before. A lot of people will boycott and not watch. I'll be one of them. (I'd love to shut off NBC completely for this, but I love Jimmy Fallon and The Office.)

NBC has royally screwed up. They need to make it right. But I'm also sorta annoyed that Leno hasn't just been the bigger man and said thanks but no thanks. He had television's most prestigious late-night show for 17 years. It's Conan's time. If NBC is going to be idiotic, then Jay should stand aside.

In a nutshell, NBC has made a mess, Jay has sat back and let it happen, and Conan has done nothing but be upstanding about it. Let the man have his show. Although I'm not sure NBC deserves him now.

And if you made it through all that, you probably deserve a reward too. Sorry to dump it all here, but the whole thing makes me really angry. My blog is my therapy.


J. et K. said...

To be honest, I've seen the headlines, tweets and FB status updates on this topic, but had no idea what was actually happening.

It (obviously) doesn't affect me at all over here, but as a blog reader it interests me because I learned something about you/your life. So I say bring on the editorial content!

(Besides... fired up Steph is awesome!)

Quid said...

I've kind of wondered if this isn't just a big publicity stunt on NBC's part. I hate to say it, but my husband and I never stayed up to watch Conan before (even though he's a big fan), and we've stayed up the past THREE nights just to see his handling of the whole situation.

I totally agree with you, though. I was actually a fan of Jay, but it would just feel backwards and awkward if he came back. NBC needs to suck it up and decide that integrity - keeping their promises and respecting their contracts - is more important at this point than who might get a handful more viewers.