The Downfall of NBC Late Night

When I was a little boy, I remember watching ‘The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson’ and thinking ‘Someday, I’m going to host that show for seven months.’

That’s a joke from Conan O’Brien, the current (but possibly not for much longer) host of The Tonight Show.

As everyone knows by now, NBC decided to make another poor decision for late night when they announced that they wished to move Jay Leno’s horrible new show to the 11:35 pm slot. Thus, The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien would be bumped up to 12:05 am. And thus, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon would be bumped up to an even later time. Conan announced in his perfectly clear and honest statement that he did not wish to move The Tonight Show or Late Night up to later time slots.

Part of his statement read:

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. Also, if I accept this move I will be knocking the Late Night show, which I inherited from David Letterman and passed on to Jimmy Fallon, out of its long-held time slot. That would hurt the other NBC franchise that I love, and it would be unfair to Jimmy.

Here’s what I don’t get: NBC would screw over both of these shows – even the long-standing and respected Tonight Show – just for Jay Leno because his new show is failing miserably? I mean, do we as an audience really need or even want Leno on television anymore? I sure as hell don’t. But NBC can’t let go, and that just may be the downfall of their late show program.

Apparently, Leno is upset too, which came through in his monologue on January 11th. But I can’t really find the sympathy for him. Yes, NBC screwed up big time. But I’m over Leno, and I’m not sure that many other people would miss him once he’s gone.

I’d much prefer that they let Fallon keep his Late Night spot, and more importantly, just give Conan O’Brien a chance to fulfill his long-time dream of being the host of The Tonight Show. He was always a better host and interviewer than Leno, and I think NBC could have found themselves a modern-day Johnny Carson if they had just played their cards right.

Overall? It’s a damn shame. Though we’ll have to wait and see what kind of agreement or settlement O’Brien and the network come to, it’s not lookin’ good for NBC’s late night.

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