NBC hosts a battle of the late-night entertainers

In a quest to see who will take the primetime late-night slot, “Team Conan” goes against “Team NBC” as viewers flock to DVR, Hulu and Fancast.

Hello, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome back to another semester at Temple and another semester with me as your pop culture guide. For those who read my column last semester, you’re aware how I, almost to a fault — OK, to a fault — flaunt my Jersey pride. So obviously the best thing to talk about would be MTV’s Jersey Shore, right?steve ciccarelli public eyeglass

Wrong. No matter how much I love/hate “The Situation,” we’re going to have to save fist-pumps and hair gel for another column. Look for that in two weeks.

The biggest entertainment story as of late has been the Conan-Leno fiasco the geniuses at NBC dreamed up. From the moment rumors began, I knew some form of excrement was bound to hit the fan within a few days. When NBC announced that they’d be moving The Jay Leno Show to 11:35 p.m., I, like most members of my generation, was pissed. Why the hell would you give Chinny McChinnerson his show back? Does the whole country want to hear horrible jokes that are only slightly funny because of how bad they are?

It all comes down to ratings. College students and the whole younger-than-40 crowd don’t really watch TV anymore. I sure as hell don’t, unless it’s sports. I DVR everything, just like you. I watch things on Hulu and Fancast. You know who doesn’t? Middle America and older people, the same two groups that don’t watch The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien.

Conan’s taking the show into a new era, an era of “Twitter Tracker” and social media, which we’re willing to embrace. The rest of the viewing public, however, is not. For now though, we’re following our redheaded leader wherever he goes, evidenced by a groundswell of “I’m With Coco,” an Obama-esque showing of support for the much loved host.

So the hammer has fallen, and Conan will definitely not be on NBC at 11:35 p.m. after the Olympics. What will he do though? There is a definite part of me that wants Conan to go to FOX, but FOX will use him as a gimmick to get more people watching American Idol. I think the best fit would be a block of Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert/Conan O’Brien on Comedy Central. Tell me most kids our age wouldn’t at least leave a TV on Comedy Central for those two hours to show their interest in the ratings?

Now, there’s a rumor going around the blogosphere that Jay Leno wants to leave NBC as well. And, rightfully so. Leno’s not a bad guy. His actual stand-up is funny. He likes cars, he’s entertaining, and he’s a nice guy. Thanks to NBC, he’s become the devil incarnate. Twitter has become a battlefield between Team Conan and Team Leno (not that anyone in Leno’s demographic is on Twitter). Shouldn’t the real factions be Team Conan and Team NBC? Leno has nothing to do with any of this.

The most astounding thing to me about all this is it’s like a movie remake of The Tonight Show hoopla when the show was originally given to Leno and not Letterman. Letterman’s gone on record saying he’s pretty much on Team Conan, considering that Coco hosted Dave’s old show for almost two decades.

Thankfully, this whole debacle has done some good. Jimmy Kimmel did his whole show dressed as Jay Leno, Craig Ferguson has been commenting, social networks have blown up, and people like me get to weigh in with their 2 cents.

Personally, I’ll follow Conan wherever he goes. He should come back to the East Coast, no matter what network his program is on. The Conan O’Brien show, whether it is called Late Night or The Tonight Show, feels like a New York show, not some fake L.A. love fest. I want to be back in the Cone Zone.

Steve Ciccarelli can be reached at steve.ciccarelli@temple.edu.

1 Comment

  1. I’m confused. First, you say Jay Leno tells “horrible jokes that are only slightly funny because of how bad they are,” then it’s “Leno’s not a bad guy. His actual stand-up is funny. He likes cars, he’s entertaining…”

    Regardless, I think Conan on cable would be a horrible idea. The Stewart/Colbert shows are a different breed than a late-night show, and I don’t think Conan would be suited for that. What he has been doing for the past 18 years is what he should continue to do, but those types of shows on cable generally don’t work (other than George Lopez, I guess, but I’m certainly not comparing Conan to George).

    Put him on Fox at 11 after local newscasts, and give him a half hour advantage over Letterman and Leno. As much as I love Conan, I’d still switch to Letterman at 11:30, though.

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