I was working on a few deadlines, but I was monitoring the NBC late night conflagration. It's desperate times at NBC. When Leno "retired" in 2004, NBC had no idea that they would go from the #2 network with 8 shows in the top 20 to the #4 network hoping the Olympic rings will keep their ratings above Univision's. They thought Conan and his younger demographic would bring in the youngsters to the Tonight Show. Conan is delivering a younger audience, but Leno must have dirt on a ton of NBC execs.
It sounds like Craig Ferguson and I both were perplexed by Conan's statements, but he was spot on in getting to the crux of the matter. The lawyers will sort all of this out. Indeed. Here's an excerpt from his letter::
"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...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."
I think it was Letterman who said the Tonight Show at 12:05 would be the Tomorrow Show. Conan's not an idiot, so I think he and his people had to see this coming, given NBC's current dire straits and the history of suits making decisions that make little sense. If he thinks Fox is a bed of roses, he better do his homework. Thats another network riding on the success of American Idol, 24, and House and a bad track record of nurturing shows. Remember Wonderfalls? All three episodes. Personally, I think he should take a huge pay cut and make a pitch to PBS.
On the above clip, Craig Ferguson makes a joke about a sequel to The Late Shift, a 1996 HBO movie on the early '90s battle for the Tonight Show after Johnny Carson announced his retirement. The cast::
I'm not a big late night broadcast network talkshow viewer, but you can probably tell which host I tend to watch.
Twitterversion:: Clip of Craig Ferguson on the NBC late night Debacle, along with his casting choices for The Late Shift 2. @Prof_K