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The War For Late Night

The War For Late Night - Bill  Carter When I first heard about this book, I was still seething from when Jay Leno took the Tonight Show away from O'Brien after only seven months of some hit or miss shows. Funny thing, for whatever reason, my hatred of Leno blinded me to the sheer stupidity of NBC. When I was finished this book, I still disliked Leno but I realized I hated NBC more.

There were some good points brought up here in defense of Leno, but there were also some points that made him look like a jerk. That being said, the book wasn't entirely pro Conan either. In NBC’s defense they did make some suggestions to O'Brien that he more or less ignored. NBC had been looking for Conan to alter his comedy style to suit people who were not fans. Basically, NBC wanted him to retain a large portion of Leno’s fans and looking at it from a business standpoint, you really can’t blame them. As much of a dream as Conan wanted to label his time on The Tonight Show, as the author points out, it’s still a job. When you’re an employee, you have to listen to your boss. Unfortunately for NBC, Conan was not, and never would be, Jay Leno 2.0.

For the life of me, I can’t wrap my head around NBC’s stance that they couldn't let Leno go to another network. Yes, when he left his post on The Tonight Show, he was still number one in late night but the man was at the point in his life where he couldn't possibly be a threat for long. He wasn't going to do this forever, surely he only had a few more years left in the tank. I also just can’t understand who finds this man funny, especially when there are so many other options in late night land. Other than “Headlines”, which is just Jay reading (or screaming) typos that other people send in, there’s really no reason to watch his show. He’s not innovative or unique and he’s painfully annoying. I just don’t get it.

Not only does the author shed some light on The Tonight Show fiasco in 2010 but you get some background on the other late night hosts. There are some interesting bits about Letterman, Stewart, Colbert and Kimmel. It kind of left me wanting a book about Letterman as the stuff written about Dave had been fascinating.

In my opinion, it all worked out for the best. Leno gets his show back on a network that doesn't deserve better and Conan gets his own show on cable where he doesn't have to answer to the affiliates. Conan is also $45 million richer! Oh, it should be worth mentioning that you have to catch the epilogue. It features some quotes from Jerry Seinfeld that basically make this whole thing look ridiculous. Some funny stuff indeed.

Cross Posted @ Every Read Thing