I am definitely on Conan’s side of the recent NBC-Leno-Conan late-night debacle. I pretty much spent most of my post high school nights watching Conan’s late-night show. I never got into Leno, but I can understand why many people did. He’s a safe comedian whose reputation for treating guests with kid gloves made him a favorite for stars to drop by his show. Stars on the show make people watch Leno’s show.
Leno’s reputation has hit a major low during the last month as he’s become the punching bag for fans of Conan and Letterman. Even Jimmy Kimmel and his followers have jumped on the beat on the Chin bandwagon. Kimmel’s surprise appearance on Leno’s 10 @ 10 show a couple weeks ago was one of the best things to come on late-night in decades. To say that Kimmel emasculated Leno would be the understatement of this young decade.
It’s now been a week since Conan aired his final Tonight Show episode and during that week we saw Jay Leno try to repair his battered image and reputation by going on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Oprah’s daytime show has become the place to go to for people who either have been brought low by other people and need a place to find comfort and support or people who need to apologize about something bad they did. Leno’s appearance could’ve been the latter, but instead he tried to be the former. In choosing this path he might have damaged his image even more than he already has.
Leno doesn’t even make a serious attempt to place some of the blame on himself for what had occurred. Instead he tries to come off as being the biggest victim in the whole shenanigans of a debacle. While not mentioning Conan’s name he even takes a shot at “the other show” which he says was failing (despite numbers showing that after a slow and low ratings early on Conan’s show was steadily rising in ratings). Leno comes off even more fake and disingenious through the whole interview. There were times as if he expected Oprah to be more supportive and throw him softball questions, but instead got something tougher and more probing. He even goes so far as to try and joke about the whole ordeal which just ends up looking awkward at best and pathetic at worst.
I hope Middle America who think Leno was the better host enjoy their bland, battered and bullshit of a Tonight Show host, because it definitely won’t be anything funny, engaging and surprising.