Late Night Fight

Can you see what the fuss is about?

Jay and Conan and NBC's "mistake", or "experiment" with the time slot…?

So then.. what we're learning is that the folks that are given the well paid task of TV programming…um, don't always know what the public will watch long enough to sell the commercial space in between interviews so they can afford to make the show. And Jay is costly. I don't know why. He's okay at what he does but he's hardly inspired. 

A few years back there was a flurry of late night talk shows started to compete with the magic of the Johnny Carson time slot. Jay got the job from Johnny when he retired, and Letterman and Arsenio Hall fought for viewers at the time. Then Chevy Chase, Pat Sajak, Magic Johnson and maybe two more people that I can barely remember, except that I remember that there were other shows, tried to steal away viewers from this coveted time slot, but were very short lived.

People are their habits. The Tonight Show with Johnny was a dynasty. Letterman has carved his way in by doing a show he made his own every night. Arsenio was a phase of pseudo-urban cool that relied on so much shmaltz and unfunny bits that he eventually failed. The thing is, if you don't have something genuine to offer, you don't really grow your brand.

I did a guest spot on the third from the last episode on Seinfeld. When I finished filming, Jerry stood with me graciously telling me I was funny and thanking me for my contribution to the show. The classiest guy I've met in showbiz, ever. So, I asked him about the final episode, the grand finale,  and remarked on how much talk there was about how he would end the biggest comedy in history. I said I was sure it would be great since they had this funny thing down and they would surely knock it out of the park. And this is where he gave me a great lesson; He said " Well that's the thing with comedy. You never know. You just throw it out there and hope." After 9 years, he was still just tossing it out there and hoping?

That show was about the funniest thing anyone had seen on TV and it was due to the leader reminding everyone that we throw out our best effort and hope. That's comedy. That's risky. That's fresh and alive.

Great lesson, eh?

The execs at every studio are tossing things out there every week. If the folks charged (and again, VERY well paid) are just tossing their best guess out there, why would you as a risk taker ever get scared about doing the same?

Now that Jay Leno left his time slot to try something else that failed, and Conan failed to meet Jay's numbers, the reshuffle has far too much talk about it going on. Controversy? What? Why? Was anything guaranteed about this?

These two gentlemen are terribly lucky to be in this position. There is way too much talent out there to think that NBC's future hangs on these two. The head of NBC programming might be on the chopping block for this blunder of a move, but so what? It's not like he knows what he's doing in the first place. If he did, he'd never lose a ratings war to any of the other networks, right? Maybe he's just a guy who's trying things out. Hmmm…that sure flies in the face of that ever-perfect posture these exec's meet us with when we audition, doesn't it?

Don't lose sight of the fact that behind the chatter of the high profile controversies are people just like you that make decisions and try their best, and often, flat out fail to meet their goal. It's the same process whether it becomes highly criticized or not. If you find yourself reading your own made up headlines before you make a decision, I bet you make the wrong one. But thank these folks for showing you that failing on a grand scale really isn't that bad. Jay, Conan and NBC will surely go on.

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