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fuÇk You NBC and Jay Leno, you fuÇking backstabbing weasels

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I don't doubt John Oliver's standup isn't funny (although his bit about the Bonnaroo audience definitely was funny particularly about the guy in the front row who raised his hand and asked if he'd like to play wiffleball later). I think what I was getting at was that the folks on this board have the attention span of a fucking gnat.

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Oliver is a funny dude.

Another thing I admire about Conan is that his incarnation of The Tonight Show pays homage to Carson's legacy right down to Conan being involved in sketches involving recurring characters and also the set-up of the band - expanded into a big-band with each musician playing behind old-style music stands a la Doc Severinsen's orchestra.

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Oliver is a funny dude.

Well' date=' all I'm saying is that he bombed big-time at Bonnaroo. His writing and performance on the Daily Show is definitely funny.


I haven't checked out his 'Roo show. As for his work on the Daily Show, it's quite funny and ballsy. The show isn't as good as it once was, but it's tough to replace the irreplaceables such as Helms, both Steves and Corddry.

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For once I agree with this zerobot fucktard. Some of y'all make that Dima douchebag sound like a Rhodes scholar.

But zerobot's lost the plot with this whole inevitable dissolution of NBC Universal into it's component parts. The Tonight Show's the Tonight Show and it's outlived presidencies, regimes, hairstyles, pubic hairstyles, and it will outlive this clusterfuck.

More illustrative than the recent GE Comcast merger is the history of late night with regards to Letterman's secession to CBS. NBC basically tried to do EXACTLY what they're doing this time. They groomed Letterman for the big job, he built an audience (even defined LateNight) - made exactly the transition Conan's made from a frattish younger skewing humour to a statesmen/court jester status. But NBC fucked Letterman and signed Leno in confidentiality long before he got wind (all of this is beautifully acted out in the film Late Shift) for fear of EXACTLY what they fear with Leno now that he would take it to another network. So they gave the top job after Carson's 30 year reign to this relative unknown who was (rightly) seen as a rapidly rising comedic talent. Putzwad Warren Littlefield likely honestly believed that they could keep Letterman at 12:30 as a one two punch with Leno but just didn't get that Letterman wanted the Tonight Show and nothing else. The rest is history.

In terms of Neilsen ratings Letterman always historically beat Leno at CBS until July 10, 1995 (and this indicator is somewhat questionable, some point to a new set that brought him closer to the audience) Hugh Grant kept his appearance after the Divine Brown blowie. Since then Leno's dominated the numbers game.

Now Conan came out of the gate strong but had a lot of things going for him beyond just the huge promotional push. But Letterman's pretty quickly outpaced him though it would take a flow chart and a fair bit of analysis to get a feel for the Neilsen sweep and tide.

Conan O'Brien's ratings slip, but race with David Letterman is just starting

The real battle is just beginning. Late-night rating trends tend to shift slowly, as viewers develop loyalties for this or that host over months or years. When Letterman took over his CBS show in 1993, he initially racked up big victories over Leno, but within a few years emerged as the perpetual runner-up.

Interestingly Bill Carter the New York Times TV critic has been taking Conan's pulse on the transition to 11:30 for a long time. This Q&A from well before the transition is telling.

Q. It seems to me that there are not many secrets within the industry, and it is natural after such a long time in the same slot that Conan would have his eyes on an 11:35 show. Nonetheless, I found his comments surprisingly frank and wonder what reasons he may have for "going public" with his current frustrations at NBC and his ambitions. What does he have to gain from doing this? Or does he just have nothing to lose?

— Emma Soichet

A. Conan did not decide to "go public" with these comments now as much as it was my idea to take his pulse on these issues at the moment when he was reaching the same point in his career that David Letterman was at when he decided he had to move up to 11:30. When I monitored his negotiations the last time his contract was up, I knew that both he and his team were getting revved up about moving out of the 12:30 slot. After that it was just a matter of talking his thoughts through, and he is both thoughtful and yes, very frank. I don't think he was necessarily throwing down a gauntlet or anything. He was judicious in his comments about NBC and his feelings toward Jay. Does he have anything to lose? Not really. NBC is avid to keep him and other networks would love to have him.

Basically NBC's fucked themselves in a couple of ways. By trying to hold onto two fish wriggling in both hands they've not literally risked losing both but the thrashing about is pretty fucking awkward. Trying to run 3.5 hours of Late Night (or as Conan called it on his first night The Night of The Endless Monologues) was a fools wager and Leno getting heftily outrated against reruns of police procedurals on other networks was not anticipated.

It's not this fucking black and white Jay Leno's a douchebag cause he wouldn't step out of the spotlight bit. You can bet the negotiations with Leno and Conan and NBC feel more like a heartbreaking custody arrangement than a cuthroat generational showdown. They fucked the pooch and now they have to go back to the drawing board and besides you don't change a horse midstream and if I knew how to properly use the expression closing the barn door way after the horse is gone I would probably also use it here.

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and Paul Schaffer's really any better?

I just like his tone. Neato guitar.

don't knock shaffer. He's a great man.

How can that be perceived as a personal attack?

Eubanks sits leisurely on a chair laughing at Jay with a couple of guitars' date=' some stompboxes, and his amp. Clean and simple.

Schaffer stands in a ring of keyboards and electronic equipment.

Holy $ix figure rig.

While Schaffer punctuates Letterman's one liners and plays up the yes man like no other, I think Eubanks' guitar sounds trump Schaffer's 'do it all' keys any day.

Now if only Eubanks were as funny.


I didn't perceive it as a personal attack. My name wasn't even mentioned. As for Shaffer, his role on letterman is probably one of the smallest roles he's ever played, though it's a big one.

Read his autobiography "We'll be Here for the Rest of Our Lives: A Swingin' Show-biz Saga", or better yet, listen to the audio version read by paul. It's very fascinating and he does some GREAT impressions (his letterman impression is a little off though).

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Conan O'Brien released a statement Tuesday afternoon regarding NBC's late-night situation, and his place in it:

People of Earth:

In the last few days, I’ve been getting a lot of sympathy calls, and I want to start by making it clear that no one should waste a second feeling sorry for me. For 17 years, I’ve been getting paid to do what I love most and, in a world with real problems, I’ve been absurdly lucky. That said, I’ve been suddenly put in a very public predicament and my bosses are demanding an immediate decision.

Six years ago, I signed a contract with NBC to take over The Tonight Show in June of 2009. Like a lot of us, I grew up watching Johnny Carson every night and the chance to one day sit in that chair has meant everything to me. I worked long and hard to get that opportunity, passed up far more lucrative offers, and since 2004 I have spent literally hundreds of hours thinking of ways to extend the franchise long into the future. It was my mistaken belief that, like my predecessor, I would have the benefit of some time and, just as important, some degree of ratings support from the prime-time schedule. Building a lasting audience at 11:30 is impossible without both.

But sadly, we were never given that chance. After only seven months, with my Tonight Show in its infancy, NBC has decided to react to their terrible difficulties in prime-time by making a change in their long-established late night schedule.

Last Thursday, NBC executives told me they intended to move the Tonight Show to 12:05 to accommodate the Jay Leno Show at 11:35. For 60 years the Tonight Show has aired immediately following the late local news. I sincerely believe that delaying the Tonight Show into the next day to accommodate another comedy program will seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting. The Tonight Show at 12:05 simply isn’t the Tonight Show. Also, if I accept this move I will be knocking the Late Night show, which I inherited from David Letterman and passed on to Jimmy Fallon, out of its long-held time slot. That would hurt the other NBC franchise that I love, and it would be unfair to Jimmy.

So it has come to this: I cannot express in words how much I enjoy hosting this program and what an enormous personal disappointment it is for me to consider losing it. My staff and I have worked unbelievably hard and we are very proud of our contribution to the legacy of The Tonight Show. But I cannot participate in what I honestly believe is its destruction. Some people will make the argument that with DVRs and the Internet a time slot doesn’t matter. But with the Tonight Show, I believe nothing could matter more.

There has been speculation about my going to another network but, to set the record straight, I currently have no other offer and honestly have no idea what happens next. My hope is that NBC and I can resolve this quickly so that my staff, crew, and I can do a show we can be proud of, for a company that values our work.

Have a great day and, for the record, I am truly sorry about my hair; it's always been that way.



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