Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Way to go, Conan!

Way to go Conan!

I’m sure it will not be a surprise to anyone, when I say I am a fan of late-night talk shows. With my night-owl disposition, passion for comedy, genuine interest in people and love of television, it is quite obvious I have been wired for such.

From the moment I was allowed to stay up to watch Carson, I have embraced the late night world. Despite a few valiant, but failed, efforts to change the landscape, my entire adult life has really consisted of the Big Three: Leno, O’Brien and Letterman.

For the record, I’m a Letterman fan. I have never found Leno that funny and was shocked when he secured the coveted, Tonight Show gig, over one of my comedy heroes. As for Conan…I had never really formed an opinion. I knew he was doing things a little different, much like Letterman in his earlier days, but I simply never got around to watching.

However, when I watched his hosting of the Emmys, I kind of wished I had followed him a little more closely. He had this brilliant running gag about killing Bob Newhart if the notoriously late running awards show went over-time. Now, although Newhart made the bit work because of his amazing dead-pan reactions, it was clearly a brain-child of O’Brien. The concept was so…not normal. And, I loved it.

Anyways, the late-night world has been shaken lately. Here’s the Cole’s Notes: Early this year, Leno retired from The Tonight Show, O’Brien moved in and Jimmy Fallon, the new kid on the block (not a “Hanging Tough” new kid), slipped into Conan’s old chair.

It was a text book changing of the guard, except, unlike Carson, Leno didn’t retire from television. He went on to do another show…in an earlier time slot.

Now, there was time, not to long ago, that transition periods such as this were met with great patience. A network would spend months, even years, grooming the heir to the throne, who once in place would then be allowed adequate time to make the kingdom their own.

But in today’s instant gratification culture, apparently that luxury can no longer be afforded. In only a few months, with Leno’s ratings (which equals money) not doing well, the suits who need to fund their million dollar homes began to panic and decided to put Leno back in his old time slot. This, of course, has started a ripple effect within the late-night ocean. And Conan is none to pleased…mainly because that ripple is about to become a Tsunami.

It's a Tsunami that is threatening to rip apart one of the few remaining entertainment “institutions”. Here is an excerpt from O’Brien’s official statement:

"...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...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.”

This is where I jump on the O’Brien bandwagon. He may be a maverick who is always looking to try something new and fresh but he also has a tremendous respect for the history on which his show rests and the entertainers who have gone before him. It is a unique blend of embracing the future & the past, and one that I admire greatly.

I find it interesting that the world cries out for new ideas, fresh concepts and change, only to lack the patience necessary to see those ideas and concepts find their legs.

In today’s world, you’d never know about classic shows like Cheers or Mary Tyler Moore…they probably would have been cancelled after season one.

I find this tremendously sad and it is the very reason why my grandchildren will probably never have an “institution” to protect. So, stick it to them, Conan. You’ll have no problem finding another show, but hopefully…you won’t have to.

The official slogan of the new decade: “Succeed! You have 24-hours.”

So sad.

Have a good one,

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