There isn't a corner of the world that hasn't heard about the recently war ignited over the late night talk show genre here in America, everyone's taking sides and expressing opinions on the matter, because, well when something of this nature happens, apparently more obscure people of note have an opinion on it then have an opinion on Michael Jackson's death. So with all of these former, forgotten and faux celebrities come out of the woodwork to express their ideas on the matter, and while my inbox is getting bombed with emails asking my opinion, I figured its time to finally break my silence and say what I think, after all, this is the internet and well, thats what its for, people to bitch about things they have no control over as if their opinions matter... well that and porn. Anyway, put on your protective gear cuz this is gonna look like an abattoir by the time I'm done.... Ready? here goes..
FUCK JAY LENO
No, I mean it, is this 2010 or have we traveled back in time to 1990 somehow? Has no one learned from the last time this happened? Does no one remember when Johnny Carson retired, and Jay bitched, wined and schemed till he got his way back then too, honestly, how many people have forgotten that Johnny's first choice for replacement was then Late Night host David Letterman, and NOT Tonight Show fill in host Jay Leno? Oh yes, how often we forget the past in the entertainment business, and ironically, as its always been said, those who forget the past, are doomed to repeat it. And guess what? We are repeating it, right now, and whats worse is, it looks like changes are, it'll end the exact same way as it did 20 years ago, which ofcourse means that NO ONE has learned a lesson from this. And honestly, that just depresses the hell out of me.
For those that don't know about the late night wars of the early 1990s, let me give you a short recap, legendary Tonight Show host Johnny Carson decided after somewhere in the area of 30 years or something, it was time to take his final bow, he felt he had run his course and that it was time to pass the torch to a younger generation of comedian to allow his show to grow and continue, Johnny's original choice was the man who's show followed his on the late night roster, former weatherman turned comedian David Letterman, he felt that Letterman had the right edge, the right feel, and was ready to take the big chair on the longest running highest rated late night talk show of all time, there was only one problem, Tonight Show fill in host, failed actor and failed comedian Jay Leno, who for some reason felt that because he was back up, he deserved the job, even though ratings on nights Leno hosted would drop a moderately noticeable amount. Carson tried to talk some sense into Jay, explaining that it was time for a younger generation to take over his show, and just as Jack Parr had passed the torch to Carson, whom he deemed to be the perfect man for the job, that it was Carson's right, and his duty to give the iconic talk show over to who he felt was the correct person to lead it into the future, Carson felt Letterman was the man to rest that responsibility on the shoulders of. Leno ofcourse decided to take a fit over this, because lets face it, Jay Leno is just a bitchy child who takes tantrums until he gets what he wants, which could be why Jay never really got anywhere in real hollywood, he was a supporting actor in like two films, and at this point had also been dropped by Doritos as their spokesperson all because people refused to work with him anymore given his annoyingly bad "I'm better then you're treating me" attitude, so against the wishes of the great Johnny Carson, Jay protests with the network to allow him to take over the show, in the press its made out that the struggle for power as an executive at NBC who, like many before and after, ignorantly said Leno was the right choice and painted Letterman out to be the one taking a fit. Letterman claims it to be untrue, and scathed the network in his monologues, Jay gets his way, and is named the host of the tonight show, and Letterman heads off to CBS where he crushes Leno in the ratings, proving that NBC picked the wrong choice, and the great Johnny Carson, as the professional that he is, kept silent and gracefully retired to play golf and enjoy watching the new generation of comedians grow and become what he saw in them when he'd featured them on his show. Ever the professional and not wishing to give anyone ill will, Johnny never publicly spoke of the late night wars, though his final appearance on television being on David Letterman's show, delivering a Top Ten list, as well as the fact Johnny stated not long before he died that he would send Letterman jokes to use and gave him permission to use his old sketches, firmly states where the now late king of late night's allegiance lay. Johnny Carson picked Letterman, the fans picked Letterman, the critics picked Letterman, but NBC picked Jay Leno. NBC were morons, their only good move in the whole debuckle was to name then Simpsons' writer Conan O'Brien as the replacement of David Letterman as the host of Late Night, though as we all know, that will eventually come to bite them in the ass.
So now, we fast forward to 2009 and after announcing afew years before that he was going to retire from his ill gotten place as the host of what was, until he took over, the crown jewel of late night programing, Jay Leno finally says he is stepping down. Jay announces he will pass the reigns to Late Night host Conan O'Brien, a man that many praise the same way that Letterman was praised, and has been called the future of late night comedy, ironically, Jay did what Johnny had tried to do, Conan names Saturday Night Live has been Jimmy Fallon as his replacement on Late Night, and moves himself, his family, and his whole crew to Los Angeles, reuniting with former sidekick Andy Ritchor, and spends the summer months preparing for the take over, Leno finishes out his run, and unlike when Johnny retired years ago, there is no fanfare or hype made about Leno's final show hosting the tonight show, there are no major guests, there are no tributes, there is no Bet Middler with her giant chest squeezed into a little black dress singing Wind Beneath My Wings to Jay while he bawls in joy and sadness that his time is over, nothing, Jay's final show goes unnoticed by anyone that didn't know it was the final one. Which honestly speaks volumes in itself I think.
Over that summer though, while Conan prepped for realizing his childhood dream, the dream that every comedian dreams for, to host the iconic Tonight Show, the show that been the starting point for so many different comedians, and sent so many on to to become superstars, Jay had other plans. Jay decided somewhere a long the way, that he didn't want to step down, because, apparently, he learned nothing from Johnny Carson's talk with him about knowing when the end is at hand, and that its time to pass the torch. jay starts to wine and cry and throw tantrums again, much as he had in the early 1990s, using the same backstabbing, underhanded tactics, and though they will not give him back The Tonight Show, NBC gives Jay the 10pm slot every weeknight, to allow him to basically retire from the tonight show so he can host the tonight show, but on earlier and called "The Jay Leno Show", The Jay Leno Show debuts to what we in the business call "curiosity ratings" meaning they are high out of curiosity, not because people want to see the show, after its first two weeks, The Jay Leno show tanks in the ratings, and NBC, like the morons they are, continue to back the wrong horse in this race, claiming the first two weeks ratings are average instead of looking at the sliding decline that they have been doing after that peak. Conan's Tonight Show debuts to mad rave reviews and continues Conan's unique offbeat humor and his love of obscure, lesser known music acts from a very broad range of genres, and comedians blended with star power that made his version of The Late Show such a hit, he also brings back old sketches and bits from his time before reunited sidekick Andy Ritchor left the show years before, much to the delight of the fans.
But sadly, with Jay on at 10pm and basically doing the same show as The Tonight Show, Conan's ratings aren't the blockbuster NBC wishes they were, and instead of looking at the real problem, which is ofcourse Jay Leno, his stale comedy and his ego, NBC points blame at Conan, who privately damns the network and Jay for what they've done, and how it seems like Leno is trying to ruin his career just to get the spotlight back, but professionally says very little, and does not point fingers, because unlike Jay, Conan is a respectable professional, who will not dispresect another to get ahead until he had no other choice or is forced to do so. At this point Jay's ratings become even lower, and the show is bombarded with lawsuits from every major comedian, even Howard Stern who blasts the show for stealing their NFL preview bit that involves former NFL player turned commentator Terry Bradshaw and a chicken, Stern and his lawyers send video tape from Howard's old program to both NBC and The Jay Leno Show, proving they ripped off the bit, which does not go over well with the network who discover that its true, Jay's been stealing jokes, as the ratings sink more, and less and less stars wish to go on Jay's new show, in January of 2010, 7 months after this whole horrible mystery ride began, NBC decides its time to pull the plug on The Jay Leno show, they rush series to fill the 10pm slot weekly into production and state that after their coverage of the Olympics, there will be some shake ups with the network.
Thus takes us to where we are now, Jay Leno, unwilling to give up the spotlight to a younger, funnier, critically loved and beloved by fans comedian, who rightly deserves the job, and NBC stuck with their thumbs in their asses on what to do about it all, Jay refuses to do the right thing and retire, even threatening to leave for another network many times in his monologues, and Conan pissed that he was only given 7 months to do the job he was promised and uprooted his entire life for, NBC makes an offer to give Leno 30 minutes each night, and Conan from midnight to 1am, pushing back Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Conan finally speaks out, and claims that he will not stand by and watch as an iconic and important series such as The Tonight Show is run into the ground and held captive by a washed up, broken down old failure of a comedian who can't let go of the spotlight, and that if they give Leno that timeslot, he will leave. Conan finally stands up for himself, his friends, and his fans who have supported him the whole way, and thus, the internet roared with joy for him. There are, at this time, no final choices made, there is no definitive answers to who is going, who is staying and where others are going, but one thing is clear, Jay Leno can go to hell.
Now don't get me wrong, I have no real ill will toward Jay other then in a professional sense, he does alot charity work, he does alot of benifits things like that, which is great, but as a professional, and as a comedian, I find him lacking, i find his professional attitude and how he does business deplorable, he's sneaky, underhanded and backstabbing, he thinks he is owed alot more then he is in this business, when infact, he is nothing more then a failure, he got the fill in host job because Johnny felt sorry for him, not because Johnny believed in him, and yet, he will not open his eyes to see that, because he doesn't understand that he isn't all he believes himself to be, he thinks he is bigger then the show, when infact, he is so very below it. I also find his comedy unfunny, he reminds me of those old parodied comedians working some backward hotel in the middle of nowhere, you know the kind that need a rimshot for every job and actually think "take my wife, please" is a funny punchline still. There is a reason that Leno stopped doing his stand up engagements at Foxwoods and other places like that, because he wasn't selling tickets, because no one finds him funny anymore, though to be truthful, not many ever really found him funny.
So if you can't tell by now, I'm rather "team conan" on this one, honestly, I find him funny, i find that he is willing to research and find just the right style of joke for just the right bit, and he hits a vain with just about every demographic he's aimed at, which really is what a comedian should do if they are in that place, or just winging it and making stuff up as he goes off random in a way that never seems to fail, Conan is the better choice, he is the better comedian, he is the better professional, and well, Jay Leno can go to hell.