Succession – Conan vs. Leno Part 3

It just keeps getting better. Today Conan finally speaks! Check out his letter to the world Oh jeez. It just gets worse. Talk about backing NBC into a corner. See below for snippets from Conan in his own words:

“Six years ago, I signed a contract with NBC to take over The Tonight Show in June of 2009. Like a lot of us, I grew up watching Johnny Carson every night and the chance to one day sit in that chair has meant everything to me. I worked long and hard to get that opportunity, passed up far more lucrative offers, and since 2004 I have spent literally hundreds of hours thinking of ways to extend the franchise long into the future.

If you were in NBC’s shoes what the heck would you do? Not only do you have a yucky employee situation, but the celebrity component adds a whole public element. See below how Conan anchors the negotiation by stating his unwillingness to accept the shift in schedule:

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.

So Conan has put it to the network and built an alliance with Jimmy Fallon. But again, points for shrewdness. Conan provides an olive branch:

There has been speculation about my going to another network but, to set the record straight, I currently have no other offer and honestly have no idea what happens next. My hope is that NBC and I can resolve this quickly so that my staff, crew, and I can do a show we can be proud of, for a company that values our work.

Ok, bring it on HR Professionals.

You are advising NBC brass on what to do. Conan, Leno and their agents are calling (can you imagine Ari Gold (Entourage) were Conan his client?). What advice would you provide? Proceed with the plan to shift Leno back to 11:30 and potentially lose Conan and Jimmy? Cancel Leno, keep Conan and Jimmy? Fire them all?  The proof will be in the $$$. Conan couldn’t make the Tonight Show work. Affiliates are choked about the low ratings for Leno at 10PM because they impacted their late night news ratings. So NBC potentially loses Conan and Jimmy, plops Leno back to 11:35PM, returns to producing TV dramas for the 10PM slot and all goes back to the way that it was. Except that they have to pay Conan to release his contract and they look like major idiots to the world. Perhaps a woman could have helped. Apparently few if any of the top brass at the TV networks are women, and of the 50 or so  comedy writers on staff  working on Late Show with David Letterman, The Jay Leno Show and The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien combined, exactly zero are women.  Perhaps the question should be: What would Tina Fey do?


2 responses to “Succession – Conan vs. Leno Part 3

  1. Why do you say they might loose Jimmy? Fallon is not going anywhere. Either they are loosing Conan (most likely) or Daley. Conan looks to be on the way out for sure, with Leno reclaiming the “Tonight Show”.

    • I say they might lose Jimmy because Conan has aligned himself with him. But you are right – could be Conan is out, Leno is back in and Jimmy stays put.

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