Don’t Be…

ellis-lenoDear Jay Leno,

Come on dude, are you really gonna make me say it? How fuckin hard is it to figure out the right thing to do in this situation? If you take back The Tonight Show then I’ll take back whatever mildly nice things I said about you in my review of LOVE THE BEAST. If you do the right thing I promise I’ll review COLLISION COURSE in your honor.



p.s. remember when you asked that one lady that easy question and she had the wrong answer, what a dumb bitch huh? Ha ha, great stuff.

This entry was posted on Friday, January 15th, 2010 at 2:37 am and is filed under Blog Post (short for weblog). You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

46 Responses to “Don’t Be…”

  1. Yeah he doesn’t want to leave. The whole situation is ridiculous.

    The weird thing is, he was the No 1 guy at his time slot. I know no one who likes the guy as a host and certainly not over Letterman or Conan and no TV critic or media person seems to but there must be a lot of people who do cause he had been on top for so long over Letterman, regardless of what we think of his humor. He must have been doing something right.

    I have no idea what the hell NBC was thinking with that move. If you tell someone that you are gonna give him the spot, then they should have honored the deal with Conan and cancelled Leno and paid him off as per his contract when the 10 pm deal was not working.

    The fact that he’s going along with the NBC corporate weasels makes him a weasel too.

    Doing what they’re doing now is ridiculous to Conan (and Leno).

    Having said that, Leno should have had the grace to bow out because he agreed to the original switch and it was never a part of the original intent that he would get to sandbag Conan if the 10 pm change didn’t work.

    He should have taken the buy out in the contract and gone to ABC and that would have been interesting: Letterman, Conan, Leno all head to head – something for everybody.

  2. I’m 100% on Conan’s side (although I never understood the venomenous hate against Leno’s humor. He still ranks higher for me than Kimmel or Fallon, but maybe it’s just because the German Late night hosts suck pretty much ass [except for Harald Schmidt, but even he has some huge problems these days]).

  3. I was just complaining about this last night. That is a total Ellis move! Thanks for saying what had to be said in the best way possible.

  4. Never was a Leno fan but I did try watching his 10 p.m. show a few times and it just didn’t do it for me. The guy just goes for obvious jokes with obvious set-ups every night. The sketches weren’t funny or original and I can’t believe people are still those Jaywalking or Headline bits.

    Conan may have fallen behind Letterman in ratings but he had also just taken over a show that was getting up to 40-50% drop in its lead-in audience due to Leno killing the 10 p.m. slot.

    I’m with Coco.

  5. Leno’s popularity is one of the reasons I have so little faith in the tastes of the American public. His brand of “humor” is as safe as it gets. That’s pretty irrelevant in this situation though. If he was the funniest comedian alive he would still be in the wrong here.

    He agreed to the move. The move didn’t work out. NBC screwed both comedians over. The classy thing for Leno to do in this instance is just step aside. He’s had his time as host of The Tonight Show. He handed it off to Conan. Now he wants it back?

    I kind of doubt he’s going to do the right thing. He has already made his position clear. Still, hopefully he’ll change his mind.

    The one plus side to all of this: Late night has been quite a bit funnier since this whole thing started.

  6. And the right thing to do is…. quit television? Serious question here, I have not been following it. I have only just started watching a little late night TV and the only guy I find interesting in the least is Craig Ferguson. Letterman is still 10x better than Leno or Conan, but most of the time I’d rather sit in a dark room than watch any of them.

  7. The right thing to do is move to another network. That’s what Conan is about to do. You don’t agree to leave a show voluntarily and pass it off to someone else only to take it back when your own show is unsuccessful. That’s about as uncool as it gets.

    I guess it doesn’t matter much now though. I just read several articles saying this is all pretty much a done deal. Leno is taking back The Tonight Show. Conan is getting paid off and being lifted from his non-compete. Letterman will continue making jokes about this for the near future.

    Most likely Conan is headed for Fox.

  8. Leno especially got screwed when Conan sent out that note, which is one of the classiest, most well-thought out “Fuck You” notes (which it was) eer.

  9. I don’t really have anything constructive to say other than “FUCK YOU LENO!”

  10. I, personally, hope that Leno does take back the Tonight Show, so he looks like an even bigger shithead. Conan will move to another station (maybe Fox, maybe Cable) where he’ll be able to have interesting guests and do the funny stuff that the Tonight Show goons wouldn’t go for.

  11. Thanks, Vern. Regardless of who is funnier/better, it’s hard for me not to
    think Jay ought to know he’s in the wrong.

    And Conan is funnier, a much stronger writer, much more willing to play the
    straight man to allow his guests to shine, brings on better bands that need a
    break, and is way more inventive and just plain fun.

  12. James Poniewozik at Time Magazine has been offering a lot if insightful commentary about this situation on his excellent TV blog:


    He’s on Team Coco while trying to be fair to Leno. If I understand correctly, Leno never really wanted to leave The Tonight Show in the first place, but he had to or else NBC owed Conan a massive payout. So on the one hand, it’s hard to blame him for wanting to return. But his willingness to throw Conan under the bus over this is rather shitty. And now apparently he’s been making jokes on his show that try to paint him as a victim in all this too, or some nonsense. Such bullshit. The man could do the graceful thing and back out, and he’d have no trouble getting another talk show or doing his standup or whatever. And, you know, not shit all over Conan’s dreams. Good news is, Conan should have no trouble finding a new venue either.

    I’m mainly curious now to see how this affects Leno’s image… will his old viewers be turned off by all this when he returns to the Tonight Show?

  13. Great find. That article is hilarious.

    NBC never should have moved Conan to The Tonight Show until Leno wanted to resign. I can’t stand Leno, but that was just bad business. Why would you cancel your top performer when he’s still at the top of his game?

    That being said, his game is no good. It’s like The Game of Life. It promises fun, but everytime I play it just feels so stale and I end up having to raise a bunch of kids afterwards and I always get stuck with a same-sex passenger because the banker thinks it’s funny but it’s not funny. I want to imagine I had sex to get those kids. As it is I have to assume me and my partner adopted and are trapped in a loveless domestic partnership and a goddamn minivan full of orphans.

    So Leno really should’ve just stepped aside at this point. Instead I guess he’s getting his show back.

  14. Every night before bed Jay Leno kicks comedy right in the dick, and then craps on its chest.

    Haha FUCK YOU comedy!

  15. Someone has to come clean about this: we all know it’s all part of some plan to keep Andy Richter off television. I don’t know who he pissed off, but the dude is cursed. They don’t care who they take out to get at him.

  16. Dan Prestwich – Yeah if I remember right, Conan’s contract was up in 2004 and Fox/ABC were both sending out feelers to snag him for their Late Night slots. So basically Zucker and NBC got Conan to stay for another 5 years at 12:30 by promising him the Tonight Show at the tail end.

    What busts my balls is that Leno AGREED to that arrangement. Shit man if he hadn’t, Conan’s contract wouldn’t have been worth the toilet paper it was wriiten on. Leno was King of Late Night, he could have stayed as long as he wanted (as long the ratings stayed kind).

    I even remember Leno saying back in 2004 how he would be alright because he didn’t spend a dime of his Tonight Show money, and would supplement his retirement income by doing stand-up gigs at casinos and shit.

    That said, I don’t blame Leno as much NBC. Stupid fuckheads fucked Conan by putting Leno at 10, undercutting Conan’s lead-in. And since Leno bombed, hes getting rewarded for failing. He’s the Lane Kiffen of talk show hosts.

  17. Vern – you need to review THE LATE SHIFT. I mean really, the Leno in that HBO movie and now is really the same. Decent likeable guys, not the perpetrators of the Late night scandals they’re involved in, yet don’t take any responsibility to stand up or verbally object.

    In short, Fuck Leno. Conan is the Future, he’s got my generation. He and Kimmel and even the underrated Craig Ferguson too. Letterman and Leno aren’t the future.

    BTW, anyone see Kimmel last night on Leno? Jesus Kimmel ripped the Chin a new asshole. Funniest thing is, the audience seemed to basically agree with him!


  18. As much as I dislike Fox, I hope they pick-up Conan and put him on at 11:00 PM. Starting Conan’s show at that hour would kill Leno. Although it would probably hurt Letterman’s rating as well.

  19. Everybody who’s interested in this should be sure to watch that clip RRA linked to. That was a classic. “Jay, Conan and I have children. All you have to take care of is cars. You have $800 million. Leave our shows alone.”

  20. That would be great, but Fox has affiliates as well. I hope he goes over to Fox but he’d have to go on at 11:30 or later because of local news.

  21. Kimmel is the man. Leno had nothing to say!

  22. Well that marks the second time I’ve respected Jimmy Kimmel

    The first being Sarah Silverman.

  23. Glad to have you on Team Coco Vern. Great crack about Jay Walking(which he stole from Howard Stern anyway) btw.

  24. The best part of that clip was that about halfway through you could see Leno realize that Kimmel was going to keep going. It might be just me, but I during one of the questions I thought I heard Jay stammer a little as he realized just how perfectly he was about to set Kimmel up. I think it was the one where he asked what was one thing Jimmy really wanted. The whole crowd went “Oh.”

    I don’t really watch Late Night unless someone I’m really interested in is going on. Personally I’d rather watch Daily Show and Colbert then any of these guys. But I do like Conan, especially when he’s paired with Richter and it’s been interesting watching him settle into his groove and start to make the show his own. Leno just isn’t funny at all. The reason he had such high ratings was because nursing homes have multiple TV rooms.

    The only other time I paid attention was watching the Matt Damon ‘feud’ play out. Let me tell you, watching the veins pop out of Jason Bourne’s neck as he screams out expletives while a live audience applauds and laughs, that is a special thing indeed.

  25. I don’t live in the States and the only one of these shows we get is Letterman’s (and along with Keifer in a dress, it has made his show more entertaining), so all I know about this really is that Conan wrote Marge vs The Monorail, hence I think he should win whatever it is there is to win.

    It is also amusing in that this isn’t a case of the powers that be acting maliciously, but just being regular assholes who tried to put off making a decision until it was too late and the situation got out of control. As an avid practitioner of procrastination myself, I kind of admire the lengths they’ve gone to in order to put off giving someone the gold watch. On the other hand, if you’re in charge of people’s lives and shit, it is probably not such a great system for running things.

  26. Conan got fucked, but at least he’s getting 40 million reasons to feel better after next week. And sometime after that when he returns to Fox. Yeah Leno/Letterman may in fact beat his paleass down for awhile.

    But again, Conan is the future. Letterman/Leno aren’t going to be there forever.

  27. RRA,

    Well put, man. I think I more or less agree with everything you’ve said here. I hate Leno as a host/TV personality, and my very mild defense must be taken with a grain of salt. And of course, on the other hand, Conan stands to get a big payday out of all of this, and probably still has a successful TV career ahead of him. So I can’t feel too bad about the situation. But either way, Conan is getting fucked out of his dream job because of NBCs fuckup, and Leno is apparently unwilling to do the classy thing and back out.

  28. in case anyone has not seen it yet, here is a link to where you can read conan’s full statement (via the huffington post):


    he says everything that needs to be said and says it with class, humility, and his typical humor. and he himself puts it in perspective by saying that no-one should spend any time feeling sorry for him. after all, no matter what happens, he will still in all likelihood be rich and famous for the rest of his life doing what he loves. in fact most of the cats involved directly or tangentially in this stupid situation will be just fine (leno, letterman, kimmel, fallon… um, daly?).

    but yeah watching letterman this week has been great. really, in just the past few years old man letterman has somehow become edgier and funnier than he has ever been (and i have always loved him). and even though people in their 30’s (like me) have kind of grown up with conan, and he is most out of all these guys the late night comedic voice of our generation (well him or stewart), i still love dave and have a hard time imagining a time when he will not be around.

    i read somewhere that a TV guide poll found that 83% of people thought that conan should keep his job at the tonight show. that’s 83%… of TV guide readers!!! a demographic that i would imagine would have a huge overlap with the jay leno audience. that’s pretty amazing. is there anyone at all who thinks NBC didn’t fuck up royally and leno didn’t act at least kinda like a dick? well, other than jerry seinfeld, who lamely defended his friend leno, while trying to pretend that he was being totally objective.

    anyway, as conan points out, there are far more important things in this world to be concerned about.

  29. Virgin Gary – Speaking of which people forget that Conan and Letterman, despite being fierce rivals at 11:30, have a real strong professional respect for each other.

    When Conan started out in 1993, (and SUCKED) succeeding Letterman at 12:30 with those infamous week-by-week contracts and couldn’t even get people to show up for his free tapings.

    Letterman allowed alot of his LATE SHOW audiences to fill up the seats at Conan’s tapings. Had Conan come over to his program a few times, and shit even in spite of his still bitter rage at NBC, he even appeared on Conan’s program just to help the guy out.

    Which is probably why Letterman has been spending this whole week bitching in his monologue and elsewhere at NBC and especially Leno. Conan getting the latest LATE SHIFT screw job. Plus I’m sure he’s gleaming at the fact that Conan stuck it to the Peacock and Leno (and got a very nice divorce settlement) which Letterman couldn’t do.

    So while Letterman is an egomaniac self-hating prick (his recent affair fiasco is just another episode), I must say he was always rather considerate about Conan.

  30. Anyone else ever hear the bit Bill Hicks did about Leno back when he first took over the Tonight Show? It’s fantastically hateful, and the image of Leno shooting himself and his brains forming an NBC peacock because “he’s a company man to the bitter fucking end” is how I always see Jay.

  31. Yeah. Hicks was awesome.

  32. Clarence Anson Williams III

    January 17th, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    Leno was a great stand-up in his day…but that was decades ago. Since that time, he has really become a grade-z dishwater stand-up (like all of those no-name guys back in the hey-day of the stand-up comedy glut). I’m not sure what happened, whether he became less hungry as success mounted or what. He sort of fizzled out…like he caught the same disease George Lucas has.

    To me he looks like such a loser LEAVING The Tonight Show to go out on top…but as soon as he fails in his next gig he has to run right back? WTF? Why not just tell NBC, sorry guys–I’ve done that (and very successfully) but I don’t need to kick another guy out just to make money for the team. How can he NOT look like a dick? Even if you dislike Conan’s brand of comedy…can you really stomach having Leno back under those circumstances?

  33. This made me laugh so hard. Thank you Vern.

  34. just some a-hole (har!)

    January 19th, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    I haven’t read all the hater-aid drenched comments Vern but I think you and your posse are in error. Read Leno’s explanation: http://www.nypost.com/p/entertainment/tv/conan_snags_nearly_in_exit_deal_v9Chb7MPK3l8sMVB49XAjL – and I mean read it. The video’s whatever, but his little monologue reads like straight David Mamet. The “my handshake deal,” all the “OK”s, all his discriptions of clipped back-and-forth conversation; this is not only convincing, this is Heist. And if you need additional evidence that Leno is straight gangster, youtube his Inside the Actors Studio. All that is real talk. He’s not just some shitheel, and the brilliant Hicks routine aside, he’s rich and well-known because he’s a worker. What’s not to appreciate?

  35. Well, if it’s a Mamet movie he’s not Mike Terry. I understand that he didn’t cause the problems and that he got jerked around by NBC too. But he also is an adult who can say “no.” O’Brien took a principled stance, he threw away his dream job because he rightfully believed that to keep it would mean to ruin the name of the Tonight Show by turning it into a 12:05 show that comes on after a half hour of Jay Leno. He also was thinking about Jimmy Fallon, knowing how screwed he would’ve been if he was still in that time slot and his show got bumped like that. He sacrificed himself to do what he thought was right.

    Leno is not required to make a stand or do the right thing or sacrifice for the greater good, but we’re allowed to notice that he just stood there and did nothing. And he can’t pretend there was nothing he could do. You don’t have to just go along with shit. He played that same “what, who me? I didn’t know what was going on, it was some other guy did it” game when Letterman got screwed. It’s not very dignified.

    Even leaving Conan out of the equation I just can’t respect somebody that would do such a punk move. He went along with it, pretended to retire, had a whole sappy send-off for his final episode. Then he says “What, oh, I’m the Tonight Show again? Oh, okay. Do I just pretend that never happened?” I mean, be a fucking man. How is he gonna look himself in the mirror after that? How is Kevin Eubanks gonna look him in the mirror?

  36. So…Does that make Conan Mike Terry? Because if so, that’s awesome. I predict that within ten years time “The Redbelt Defense” will be a legally recognized technique. “Your Honor the only thing my client is guilty of is knowing the escape.” Can’t argue with that.

  37. No that Coco is Gogo we should all remember the greatest moment in Late Night history (Yes, I’m talking about puppies, dressed as cats):


  38. I thought that Freebird ending last night was touching.

    Also loved how Dusty Hill (ZZ Top) and Beck were there just hanging around and jamming.

  39. I was really touched by his little speech asking young people not to be cynical, especially in the face of what happened to him. He has such a good perspective on it, but from the outside it just seems like such a symbolic crushing defeat. Five years of thinking, “That’s cool that Conan O’Brien gets to move up to the Tonight Show,” then he gets it, and right around the time you’ve gotten used to it it’s “BZZZZZZTTTT!!!! Just kidding, you can’t have what you want, it’s back to smarmy mediocrity, America! p.s. FUCK YOU.”

    It’s a small thing but a disheartening one. And the reason I wanted to post about it was that it just pisses me off to see the honorable man getting screwed and the weasel getting more than he even asked for.

    So his pep talk was needed.

  40. That episode summed up everything that is great about Conan O’Brien. I’ll follow him wherever he lands after this. I think it’s safe to say that in the long run Conan’s legacy will utterly dwarf Leno’s, that guy has reduced himself to a complete joke. Conan deserves all the credit in the world for making his last show all about joy and laughter (and he also deserves credit for STILL taking time out of the show to urge people to donate to Haiti relief funds) and refusing to let the fact that he got screwed sour his pursuit of making people laugh. Him in tears thanking his fans, his crew and even the network that ultimately fucked him over says everything you need to know about him.

    God bless, Coco.

  41. Between Conan and Obama, it’s been a tough month for guys who seem like they’re trying to do the best they can in the face of hard times. I too was touched by Conan’s honest appeal to not let the obvious cruelties of the world break your spirit. I, for one, really needed it.

  42. Yeah, I gotta say that even I, who is allergic towards inspirational speeches, was a little bit inspired by what he said last night.

  43. Maybe it’s better to be positive, but if you’d still like to help shame Leno for being a weasel you can help add to my tweeterings about other dishonorable things Leno would be willing to do. Some of mine include “Finish the third season of Chappelle’s Show” and “Say the pledge of allegiance for that 10 year old who wants marriage equality.”


  44. Conan got a 7.0 on his last night.

    So NBC, you made the right decision after all. Just like JOEY.

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