Tag: Tonight Show

Late Night – Again

If you look at the blog posts below, you will see that this blog started about the time that Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien were battling it out for the Tonight Show several years ago. Today we are on the doorstep of the next transition in the Tonight Show – Jimmy Fallon will take over as host shortly after the 2014 Sochi Olympics in a few weeks. I look back on the prior posts, and I was pretty much right on. Jay needed to move on, and that is proven once again in the decision by NBC to install Jimmy Fallon as host, and late night will change again. This time, though, there seems to be less animosity than the last time. And I think NBC is making a smart move with a new host who is loaded with talent.

Jay has not been doing bad since his return. In fact, the one point I was not correct on is that Jay did return to dominate late night. He won every week’s rating’s since he returned. But I was correct on all of the rest including the fractured audience, the heavy competition from other talented people, and I think my compliments of Fallon as a rising star. The competition now includes Arsenio Hall who was a trend-setting talent the last time he was in late night. And Fallon’s talent has been demonstrated by his outstanding work on Late Night. His range of talents, his active participation in songs, skits, and comedy bits makes him a force. He has had huge success with his friendships with Justin Timberlake, Stephen Colbert, and others who have come on his show multiple times and performed in duets, both vocal and comedic, with Fallon. Fallon himself has been no stranger to ratings success – winning many weeks of the ratings competition in his timeslot.

Fallon will move the Tonight Show from the west coast back to NYC. That should be a refreshing and interesting development. I don’t know how long that will last, after all our friend David Letterman has been controlling the television traffic on Broadway quite capably for years now. But it is an interesting development and a wonderful idea. The Tonight Show started in New York and returning to its roots will add some spice to the new show. I remember when I started working at NBC years ago one of the first places they took me to see was the “Tonight Show” mockup set that they would take the tours to see in 30 Rock; even though the show had moved to the west coast, the folks in NYC still had love for the program.

Jay and his consistent, funny, and relevant monologues have entertained me for decades (wow, has it been that long?), but I am ready for something new. Welcome Jimmy Fallon! #FallonTonightShow

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Bye Bye Coco

And so last night was the last Conan O’Brien Tonight Show.  I have been watching this week – it was Conan’s best week ever.  He let loose and did real comedy.  His guests were free-wheeling and able to say almost anything.  Conan packed his show full of comedy.  And what happened? His ratings went up.  To the highest levels ever.  Sure the news gets people to tune in, but programming gets them to stay.  So in his final week, he showed the network what they will miss, and it was, unfortunately, what he should have been doing all along.  But the show was good.  Conan had still not developed into the top-flight host that Jay and David are – Conan STILL interrupted his guests (here’s a hint Conan: When you have Tom Hanks on, he is funnier than you are and your audience wants to hear him – just let Tom Hanks talk! Don’t interrupt him!) Even with Conan-interruptus, it was one of the best segments all week.

So is putting Jay back on the Tonight Show the right thing for NBC?  This is just a long-time television observer’s opinion, but Jay has done damage to himself.  Can he win the late-night ratings? Maybe.  But it won’t be like it used to be with Fortress Jay dominating late-night.  People have had a chance to tune around and see what else is available and the young, hip comedians are creative and interesting.  Jimmy Fallon is showing his range (he can even sing a bit) as an entertainer. Craig Ferguson (a bit older, but still new to the scene) is showing that he is a terrific interviewer. Chelsea Handler is a stealth but powerful force.  Jay now needs to look over his shoulder.  As of today, Jay is the definition of old-school.

Good luck to Conan on his future career moves.  Good luck to Jay.  Now that the battle is over, it is time for this viewer to surf the channels and find something interesting to watch in late night.