Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Late Night Leaderboard, early Thursday morning edition

Wavering a little on my "Conan stays" prediction. Here's why: him leaving NBC makes too many people happy:
  • It makes NBC happy: NBC undoes the mistake they made in promising Conan The Tonight Show back in 2004, when it was still the #1 late night program. They made a mess of the whole thing, and Conan leaving is the closest they get to a Ctrl + Z.
  • It makes Conan happy: Conan doesn't have to stomach the demotion -- which, let's face it, is exactly what this is. Of course, we should all be so fortunate to face such dilemmas. Here's one reason I'm leaning in this direction now: Conan's contract is for two years (can't remember where I read this, but it was very recent and from a trusted news source), and he's already seven months into that. NBC will not renew that contract. His only hope for more time on the network -- and it would still be at 12:05 am -- is to use the current negotiations to extend that contract, which I no longer strongly believe is the case.
  • It makes Fox happy: Fox has a shot at getting into the Late Night wars. And they can do it without breaking the bank: it's not like Conan can brag about his superior ratings or anything. Fox should get him for less than what it cost NBC to let him go.
  • It makes Jay Leno happy. He gets his show back. In complete fairness to the guy, they never should have taken it anyway in the first place.
  • It makes the NBC affiliates happy.
That's a rare win-win-win-win-win, and it's tough to argue against that. We'll see. Some bloggers are almost apologetic about covering this story. I find it fascinating.

Also fascinating: the Late Night Leaderboard.
  1. Craig Ferguson: Gets Letterman's spot in five years, if not less, and deserves it.
  2. Jimmy Fallon: Wow ... no one likes this guy; what gives? Plenty of fun.
  3. Conan O'Brien: Losing suits him. I'm not kidding -- in the last few days, he seems more like a human and less like a human version of Disney's Goofy.
  4. David Letterman: The top was always close, but Letterman's the guy that takes the biggest plunge; I'll get around to writing about this at some point. Let me just say right now that Dave looks tired, genuinely tired, from the grind.
  5. Jay Leno: Still seems like he'd be a good guy to know, but has arguably the weakest interviewing skills of the bunch.
  6. Jimmy Kimmel: Needs more Matt Damon.
  7. Soon-to-be canceled John Daly: Without Tiger Woods, golf needs him now more than ever.