Last week saw lots of controversy in late night programming, specifically on NBC.
The network’s big decision to move Jay to 10pm five nights a week was a terrible one. Sure, he’s cheaper, but Jay can’t compete with the big programs on other networks. With big favorites 24 and the final season of Lost returning this spring, he’d be even worse off. So in yet another terrible move, NBC, for reasons unbeknownst to me (or at least none that can be expressed to a mixed audience), has decided to give Jay back the Tonight Show and move Conan back half an hour. Conan said no way. Much controversy ensued.
Support for Conan came in large quantities. Huge groups on Facebook and Twitter said, “I’m with CoCo.” Comedians showed support for Conan–David Letterman (who also got shafted by NBC and Leno), Jimmy Fallon, and Craig Ferguson all bashed Leno in their monologues. Neil Young reportedly was one of the first to show his support.
In the end, Jay got his show back, Conan got millions of dollars and lots of fans/publicity. His final show got record ratings. The real loser in all of this (other than the fans who now have to suffer through the not-as-funny Leno) is Jimmy Fallon. Fallon’s humor is more subtle and his show suited for younger audiences–from the MacBook to The Roots, Fallon is hip and tech-savvy. Leno’s older viewers are less likely to stick around and watch Fallon than Conan’s younger viewership.
Conan has been banned from hosting another show for seven months. He’s reportedly fielding options from Fox, Comedy Central, HBO, and FX. I look forward to the outcome.