Art by Mike Mitchell.
Late to the Meme and not normally inclined to comment on late night TV, I just felt I'd add my $0.02.
While the focus of the blame for this late night debacle is NBC's epic failure when it comes to network TV programming and piss poor handling of the situation, I just feel the need to point out that Jay Leno and his ego (which is exponentially larger than his prominent chin) played a key role in creating this situation. Leno agreed to and announced his scheduled retirement from The Tonight Show ages ago and O'Brien signed his contract to take over the show. This was a transition made with a lot of planning and fanfare. By insisting he be back on the air in a similar format in the same calendar year he "retired" from The Tonight Show, Jay Leno undercut and undermined Conan O'Brien's takeover of the show. Leno then completely exacerbated the situation and further bitch-slapped O'Brien by announcing publicly that he'd be glad to have his old time slot back.
If Leno has second thoughts on his retirement and stepping aside for O'Brien, he could have approached NBC (and O'Brien) about the possibility of delaying his scheduled retirement well before his much hyped final season, but he either did not or did but would not take the refusal to give him exactly what he wanted gracefully. Why NBC went along with this is beyond me. If they were really interested in an experiment with a prime time chat show, let alone one starring Jay Leno, they would have had more luck had they waited at least a year to give time for O'Brien to find his groove with The Tonight Show so Leno's "new" show didn't seem to be just the early Tonight Show which just leant the appearance that The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien was some sort of 2nd string/understudy version following the local news.
If Jay Leno had any class or integrity, he would have insisted that his return to television not undercut his program. Instead Leno has shown himself to be something other than a windbag. It seems as though the bouquet of Leno's ego has an awful lot of notes of vinegar. . .
Tags: NBC Jay Leno Conan O'BrienSphere: Related Content