The War For Late Night

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

New York Times media reporter Bill Carter discusses the dramatic 2009/2010 late-night season, when NBC moved Jay Leno into prime time and gave Conan O'Brien The Tonight Show to host. The War For Late Night: When Leno Went Early and Television West Crazy tells what happened after the move, which critics called a train wreck—Leno's show was panned and ratings for Conan's new Tonight show plummeted, presenting a prime opportunity for rival David Letterman.


Bill Carter

Comments [14]

Jaffe from The Isle of Manhatta

Who cares?!! Mediocre stand-up comedians with nothing to say spend 90 minutes shilling crappy movies and TV shows in the name of corporate synergy. Blecch!

Jan. 05 2011 12:43 AM
art525 from Park Slope

It's six of one a half dozen of the other. Both are mediocre "talents" and neither seems like a particularly nice guy. Conan's followers think he's the good guy but he hustled to replace Leno. Just like Leno did with Letterman. I have seen Conan on numerous occasions around town and he seemed like a surly guy. And believe me I had no interest in approaching him.

Jan. 04 2011 12:49 PM
Connie from Westchester

I share those sentiments of Tom from Brooklyn and dboy from nyc...hear! hear!

Jan. 04 2011 12:48 PM
Tom from Brooklyn from Brooklyn

I am listening to this now and smiling in wonder. As a Brit living in New York I have to admit that the fuss made over late night talk shows is one of the biggest mysteries I have encountered over here. Mindboggling, particularly if you ever bother to tune into them.

Jan. 04 2011 12:40 PM
Jack Jackson from Central New Jersey

Leonard -

The Daily Show had a host before Stewart and the show was great then, too.

After Leno - what...Fallon? That's not gonna happen.

Conan goes back to NBC when Leno finally is too old.

Jan. 04 2011 12:36 PM
Mitch from Manhattan

The general public likes Leno better than Conan. But it must be said; after many years he is still not capable of a good interview, is dependent on blue cards for the most pedestrian guests, and responds mostly with platitudes. Maybe this tells us something about public tastes on commercial TV.

Jan. 04 2011 12:35 PM
S Block from NYC

I've become obsessed with Conan's constant joking about how "white" he is. It doesn't seem so much like a joke to me anymore. I'm white but he makes me feel that by his standards I'm not white enough. Then I look at his whiter than white wife... I think he has a problem.

Jan. 04 2011 12:32 PM
Alice from New York

How do you explain that most people were "Team Coco", especially other late night host?

Jan. 04 2011 12:31 PM
Nan from Manhattan

Serves NBC right for ditching "Southland."

Jan. 04 2011 12:26 PM
Mike from Bklyn

Is Joan Rivers invisible? You talk about Carson, Leno, Conan's Fox offer...
Joan Rivers was next in line after Carson, until *she* disasterously took FoxTV's offer.

Jan. 04 2011 12:25 PM

How does Craig Ferguson fit into this late night scene in general?

Jan. 04 2011 12:24 PM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

I do, Conan is a wonderful comic writer but a sub-par host.

However, if Leno wanted to stay, he should have stayed - but once he left, he should have stayed gone.

Leno had more power than he thought but in trying to please everyone, he did the exact opposite - creating a complete mess.

Jan. 04 2011 12:19 PM
dboy from nyc


Jan. 04 2011 12:14 PM
dboy from nyc

Does anyone actually care about this subject matter???

Jan. 04 2011 12:12 PM

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