George Lopez visited Howard Stern today, and the comedy legend revealed some massive secrets behind the infamous late-night war between Conan O’Brien and Jay Leno. While Conan is often thought to be the greatest casualty of the fiery feud, Lopez brought to light something I’ve said from the start. Conan O’Brien is just as guilty as Jay Leno. First, O’Brien took Lopez’s time slot and his dismal ratings meant he was a poor lead-in for Lopez. According to Lopez, he had no say in the decision, and though he was publicly accepting, TBS forced his hand. TBS also asked Lopez to call Conan to convince him to take the job, another move Lopez felt forced to make. Lopez also slammed David Hudson, the SVP of late night and specials, who consistently called-out Lopez’s creative choices, despite “never having sold a comedy ticket in his life.”
It’s insane that Conan came out clean in the Tonight Show feud, especially since the entire debacle began when he pressured NBC to sack Leno, which would be considered evil in any other non-entertainment profession. Plus, he simply didn’t have the ratings. Sure he had a weak lead-in, but if that’s the case, then it’s even further proof of his hypocrisy regarding George Lopez. Listen to Lopez’s very honest account below.
Just because you’re Jewish doesn’t mean you’re allowed to make anti-Semitic comments. David Cross appeared on Conan to discuss his new film, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, and it’s clear he hated the experience. Though I love when an actor is brutally honest about mistreatment on set, he crossed the line when he said that one of the producers is the “Personification of what people think about when they think negatively about Jews.”
Being the dedicated “online journalist” that I am, I often watch late-night interviews. One of my favorite late-night guests is Kathy Griffin, who consistently kills it. So when I watched her on Conan O’Brien, I couldn’t help but notice the uncomfortable laughs from the audience, and it felt a bit like she was tanking. Then I came to a very powerful realization — and it’s one that Conan’s people should listen to. His audience sucks. Almost every guest appears to be tanking, including comedians. The audience is either not laughing, or there are some sound issues that make them feel too far way from the guest. Are they not properly warmed up? Perhaps Conan’s team should watch Chelsea Lately, because her audience seems to erupt in laughter on a per minute basis. Is Chelsea just funnier than Conan? I doubt it. Get on the ball, Coco.
I feel bad for George Lopez. The guy had a moderately successful show, and then Conan’s late night debacle forced him into a new time-slot. At the time, he was supportive, assuming that a great lead-in could only help his ratings. Unfortunately, Conan didn’t deliver his expected audience numbers, and George Lopez suffered. But when you look at the big picture, here’s the nutshell summary — Conan did to George what Jay did to Conan. Sure Conan likely asked for George’s permission when he joined TBS, but in the end, he still hurt Lopez’s numbers. It’s not my style to pick on Conan O’Brien. I used to be such a huge fan of his show. But he should have stayed in his original time-slot. He was chasing after the dream of “being the next Johnny Carson,” and that arbitrary goal got in the way of pragmatic decision-making. Now he’s suffering. And furthermore — he should have gone to Fox instead of TBS.
Celebrity meltdowns are only funny when it’s about a spoiled brat learning a lesson. But when someone completely loses their mind, it’s no longer funny. The Charlie Sheen debacle was funny for the first five interviews, and then it became sad. So when Charlie Sheen called John Cryer a “troll,” I actually felt sorry for Sheen. He felt betrayed by Cryer, and he lashed out at him in one of his many insane fits. Cryer made fun of the accusation on Conan O’Brien, and I’m pretty sure it was in bad taste. Watch below and judge for yourself.
There’s been a lot of talk in the media about Conan’s ratings dip on night two, and I’d just like to send a collective “suck it” to all the Negative Nancys out there. It’s obvious that he’d have huge ratings his first night out. People initially tune in because of the insane press coverage for the first show, and then Conan’s regular audience sticks around thereafter. In this case, his regular audience was about 30% of the initial viewing audience, which is pretty good. Sure he came in third against Leno and Letterman, but keep in mind that Leno and Letterman are network shows, and the fact that Conan can even come close to those ratings is pretty pathetic for the Network big-wigs. Cable has less eyeballs, and even with less eyeballs, Conan is a contender. That’s pretty damn good.
The Mother-Zucker lost his job today, and I can’t help but wonder if Conan is secretly laughing. As I pointed out in yesterday’s Blockbuster post, I don’t usually rejoice at another’s demise, but I sometimes make exceptions. I’ll make an exception today for Jeff Zucker, who was the brains behind the Jay Leno/Conan O’Brien late-night debacle, and who handled his mistakes by pointing the finger at Conan’s failings, instead of his own. To quote the great Tim Gunn, “take responsibility for your own actions,” Mr. Zucker. As an aside, he also made a feeble attempt to smoke Conan off the air for three years, so that Conan could not move to another network to compete with Leno. It didn’t work, and insiders felt it was only a matter of time before Zucker was held accountable for his poor decisions. Zucker was fired by Comcast COO Steve Burke. If you would like a detailed account of Zucker’s failings while he headed NBC, then read Bill Carter’s fantastic book, Desperate Networks. You can also read Nikki Finke’s brief recap. How NBC kept him all this time, when he single-handedly sunk the network after NBC lost Friends, I’ll never understand. Oh wait — yes I will — It’s Hollywood. Here’s hoping that this gave Conan a slight sense of enjoyment.
In a preview of things to come, future cable competitors Conan O’Brien, Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart engaged in a very funny dance-off on stage at O’Brien’s ‘Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television’ tour. It’s worth watching the video below if for no other reason than to see Jon Stewart in spandex.
If you’ve never read a book by Bill Carter, it’s time to start. I just finished reading ‘Desperate Networks,’ which kept me in solitary confinement for the past week because I couldn’t put it down. Carter is most famous for penning ‘The Late Shift,’ which chronicled the very ugly Leno/Letterman transition of ‘The Tonight Show’ when Johnny Carson left. So I naturally wondered if he is going to write another book about the Leno/Conan debacle, and I am happy to report that it is in the works. Carter told the New York Times that he is trying to get the book out as “as soon as [he] can,” and he is “reaching out to all sides” so that he has an unbiased point of view.
NBC felt the need to respond to Conan’s 60 Minutes interview by calling him a liar. They refuted Conan’s claim that he was a cheaper buy-out than Jay Leno, and they insisted that they did in fact lose money with Conan as the host, despite Conan’s claim that it “really isn’t possible” that NBC took a financial hit. First of all, you would have to be an idiot to believe that both Jay Leno and Conan signed a contract for the same amount of money. Leno was at NBC for a longer period of time, and ‘The Tonight Show’ hosting gig in it of itself demands a higher paycheck. Any assertion otherwise is ridiculous. Second, is everyone forgetting just how much money Jay Leno’s failed 10:00pm show cost NBC? Oh yeah – and what a horrible decision NBC made by putting him in that slot in the first place. They sacrificed their entire prime-time line up, which will take forever to rebuild. Instead of owning their terrible choices, they are pointing fingers at the guy that loyally worked for them for 13 years. Have some dignity NBC.