When Turnabout Isn’t Fair Play

"Seriously, dude, step aside." (Photo courtesy of NBC.)

By now the entire universe knows about The Feud.

It was supposed to be a smooth transition of power. Last year Jay Leno was going to gracefully cede his throne to his successor, the inimitable Conan O’Brien, who would relocate from New York to L.A. to take over the most revered late-night talk show ever, The Tonight Show. But things didn’t quite go according to plan.

Nudged out by a deal made in 2005, Leno still willingly retired from late-night in late May, only to immediately host the hour-long Jay Leno Show at 10 PM that soon faltered and hurt ratings of the nightly news in some markets, angering many network affiliates. And The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien stumbled because of a weak lead-in and because Conan had to smooth out some of his edgy humor. Both programs suffered. Smarting from a string of bad creative decisions over the last couple of years, NBC executives panicked and decided to rush Leno back to 11:35 for a half-hour show starting in March. Their offer to Conan to push his hour-long show to 12:05 was rebuffed, and now they’re buying him out, leaving their late-night schedule up in the air.

Leno wanted to go out on top. He never wanted to cause problems, overstay his welcome or create an imbroglio like the one that caused a ginormous rift between him and David Letterman when he beat out the latter to take over The Tonight Show from Johnny Carson in 1992. Don’t believe it? Let Jay tell you. Let’s go back to 2004…

2 Responses

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    The media and airheads turned the issue into one where they blamed Leno for everything. Leno hadn’t anything to do with Conan’s demise. Both shows had bad ratings. Conan’s ego wouldn’t accept the NBC offer to begin the Tonight Show a half-hour later, because he threw a hissy-fit and pouted. Conan is the one that threw Leno under the bus. Not the other way around. As for Letterman, he picked up less than a half-million viewers. His ratings still aren’t at levels of what Leno’s were. Leno had the leading show for most of the years he was at the helm. I’ll go back and forth with Leno and Night Line, which is what I previously did during that time slot. I detested Letterman and never found him very humorous or entertaining.

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    […] at Gray College; he is up for tenure this year and, after recently witnessing his good friend…When Turnabout Isn't Fair Play – Attention Deficit Delirium… caused a ginormous rift between him and David Letterman when he beat out the latter to … […]


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