It’s finally over. Conan O’Brien has exited Stage Left. Last Friday was his final day as host of “The Tonight Show” on NBC. The decision to leave was the culmination of a very public battle that involved O’Brien, NBC Executives and Jay Leno, former Tonight Show host. In the end, O’Brien chose to leave and he did it his way.
My question is after the many punches thrown at NBC during his nightly monologue, did Conan burn a bridge or was it all in the name of good comedy? I’ve heard justification for both sides of the answer. I’ve heard everything from “he should have settled the contract, given his side of the story and let it be” to “Conan had every right to ‘stick’ it to NBC for how they treated him;” but who’s right?
I agree that NBC took a big gamble on The Jay Leno Show; and when it failed in their eyes, Conan got the short end of the equation. Conan chose not to take the offer on the table [moving The Tonight Show to 12:05AM] and walk away. His letter to the “People of Earth” was heartfelt and genuine. He explained his feelings and allowed ‘earthlings’ to empathize with him and the situation. Fans – old and new – united via social media and eventually staged #TeamCoCo rallies outside NBC studios.
During the last two weeks of The Tonight Show, NBC and “situation” were the subject of many monologues by O’Brien and several guest discussions. Each time the verbal jabs were more heated and direct. The audience LOVED it. Ratings soared. The Tonight Show finally had more viewers than Late Night with David Letterman. I guess losing your job in a public manner can be good for business…I mean advertisers, i.e. ratings.
Looking back on how Conan spent his last two weeks at NBC, did he burn a bridge or was it all in the name of good comedy? How would you leave a job you if you were relieved of your duties?
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