I’m a huge fan of late night and was ecstatic when I heard 5 years ago that Conan O’Brien will be taking over the Tonight Show. Well, back in June 2009 it finally happened. I was happy yet sad. I was happy that I don’t have to wait up as late to watch Conan but sad that Conan had to tone it down a bit for the earlier audience. Gone are several of the characters that were geared towards his younger Late Night audience such as the Masturbating Bear and the Sears Tower In Sears Clothing. Initially things were good as everyone tuned in to see how the show would turn out but ratings soon started to slip. It seems that Conan’s audience started to tune out because Coco was toned down, the regular Tonight Show audience started to tune out because they can’t relate to O’brien, etc…. Anyways, NBC has confirmed that changes are to come which will see Jay Leno back at 11:35 for a 30 minute show and Conan following Leno. Pretty much the same thing since 1992. Maybe Conan will bring back some of his more risque characters and be more unrestrained.
NBC and Jay Leno already shafted another late night host by the name of David Letterman. For all you youngsters that don’t remembered what happened back in the early 90’s…. it goes a little something like this. Tonight Show host at the time Johnny Carson was about to retire, David Letterman who hosted Late Night was expecting to take over. NBC decided to go with Jay Leno as Carson’s successor. David Letterman promptly left for CBS and started The Late Show while NBC selected Conan to replace Dave on Late Night.
If I were Conan O’Brien, here’s what I would do. Bail on NBC. Dave’s contract is up in 2012… go talk with CBS and see if they’d want you to take over for Dave. For the next 2 years, take a break. Go back to writing for The Simpsons so that they retire with some dignity and take over for Dave when the time comes. History can repeat itself.