Published January 22, 2010
What a disaster for network TV!
The late night shows are about to get stodgy again.
Conan O'Brien won't be kicking his bosses five nights a week.
It's official now: Ratings challenged NBC and the ratings-challenged host of "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien" are calling it quits. Conan gets $32.5 million to go away quietly after Friday night's show.
NBC finally gets him out the door. Jay Leno gets his show at 11:35 p.m. back on March 1. And personally, I'm going to miss the slow-motion train wreck that got us here.
The last two weeks have been an unexpected joy in the Land of Predictable Doze-Off Shows.
This was fun: NBC's flailing ruthlessness, Jay's forced good cheer, Kimmel's bully-boy cruelty, Dave's wicked asides -- who doesn't get a thrill from watching The Man being trashed?
Even if that very same "Man" is paying you $32 million in hush money.
Even if you'll probably launch a new show (after your contract expires on Sept. 1) with a similar Man. Finally, a reason for the rest of us to stay up past 11:35!
There's an old saying in late night going back to the days of Carson and Parr: "The viewers are never wrong."
Well, the viewers voted again, with their remote controls this time -- and they loved the train wreck. The nastier late night got, the higher the Nielsens rose.
If NBC knew what would happen to Conan's numbers when they took his time slot away, they'd have been yanking him around the schedule every week.
So here's the natural follow-up as NBC execs nurse their ego bruises and Conan rides off on sabbatical before his new gig, whatever that may be:
Why stop the trash talk with the late-night? Why not have everyone on the network trash the people in charge? If ridicule-the-boss can work for Conan, maybe NBC anchor Brian Williams should try it too.
"It's the 'NBC Nightly News' from a network that used to have bureaus and reporters and stuff and where the talent used to whisper the ugly gossip only amongst themselves."
Come on, you know you'd watch.
Ellis Henican is a columnist for amNew York and New York Newsday. He is a Fox News contributor.