Silver Chips Online

A good "bye" to O'Brien

By Sophia Deng, Online Managing Editor
February 4, 2010
On Jan. 7, it was official. Conan O'Brien would be kicked out of his 11:35 p.m. timeslot to be replaced by the person he succeeded, Jay Leno. "I'm with CoCo" rallies outside of NBC headquarters abounded in support of the comedian. Tweets of the O'Brien-Leno feud inundated Twitter. Celebrities and viewers at home took sides, leading NBC's TV timeslot hype to become an all-out war.

Conan O'Brien will be replaced by Jay Leno after his seven-month stint with the "Tonight Show." Courtesy of NBC
Conan O'Brien will be replaced by Jay Leno after his seven-month stint with the "Tonight Show."
For the past 16 years, O'Brien has followed Jay Leno's 11:35 p.m. "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" with "Late Night at Conan O'Brien." In 2009, Leno scheduled to retire, handed the reigns for his timeslot and show to O'Brien beginning June 1. Yet, after obtaining high ratings in 2009, Leno decided to stay in television, forcing NBC to open another slot to accommodate Leno with "The Jay Leno Show" at 10:00 p.m. On Jan. 7, NBC producer Jeff Zucker proposed that Leno move back to 11:35 p.m., with O'Brien following at 12:05 a.m.

Although fit for one of NBC's mid-day soap operas, the fiasco is no laughing matter, with heated sparks flying from left to right. Rosie O'Donnell, who vehemently sides with O'Brien, has been reported to want Leno to step aside. On her blog, O'Donnell has even gone as far to call Leno a "bully."

While it is easy to get sucked into blaming Leno and finding a big bad wolf in the drama, Leno cannot be blamed (entirely) for his part in the O'Brien-Leno feud. If the situation were reversed and O'Brien were the veteran comedian, he would likely not forgo his advantageous position to earn more money, giving a younger stand-up his spot. Yet unfortunately Leno has not been a total saint. Five years ago, he mentioned his retirement in 2009, but has now gone back on his old claim. "I told a little white lie on the air. It made it easier that way," he admitted.

If anyone is looking to point fingers, one should be pointed to Leno and four to the NBC network. The lineup change of the two comedians was due in large part to obtaining higher rankings. O'Brien faltered against Letterman in the 11:35 slot where Leno peformed better previously. Not empathetic to the feelings of O'Brien, NBC decided to revert back to its old system.

No drama is good drama, but luckily for O'Brien the mess has landed him in a better place than ever. On his final Jan. 22 show, O'Brien had 10.3 million viewers, according to the New York Times, the highest rating ever for any of his tonight shows. O'Brien also constantly tops rankings for viewers in the 18 - 49 age range, who be loyal to O'Brien in the future. Plus, O'Brien has become a well-liked guy, while Leno and NBC are widely hated.

Not too bad for so much drama. I'll either switch networks when O'Brien decides to transfer, maybe even watching FOX for the sake of listening O'Brien's banter. Or better yet, sleep earlier.

http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/story/9853