Conan has taken an interesting approach to the late-night fiasco – refusing to be on a “Tonight Show” that airs after midnight and follows a half-hour of a Jay Leno Show. In late-night, the Tonight Show has always been the gold standard. It was the show all comedians aspired to. It was a show that during the Carson years launched or helped most of the new comics get a start (including Leno and Letterman). The venerable show has been on since 1954 and has only had five permanent long-term hosts. To give that up, and the money that comes with it, is an amazing position. What surprises does Conan’s contract hold? Perhaps he wants to be released from his non-compete clause so he can go to Fox? The last thing late-night would need is a three-way race between Jay, David, and Conan. Conan says that the show itself is too important to destroy. Is that character, or something else? More developing.
Letterman is having the most fun with the situation. The last two nights he has had a lot of jokes and commentary on the situation. Of course Letterman is no stranger to late-night drama.
Leno’s show has to move. It si costing the affiliates too much money. But more importantly, it is killing the Owned and Operated stations. That directly affects NBC’s bottom line. It is one thing to hurt the affiliate’s bottom lines, it is another to be hurting your own, especially as GE is trying to sell NBC off to Comcast and would like to get a decent dollar for the Network and all that goes with it.