Comebacks?, Comedy, Interviews, Late Night, Pop Culture

Keeping It Classy with Conan O’Brien

Danielle Johnsen :: Monday, May 3rd, 2010 1:15 pm

One word comes to mind when I think of Conan O’Brien after the late night debacle and that’s classy. While the one-time employee of NBC had to sign a non-defamatory agreement when he left NBC this year, I would assume his discussion about his previous employers and Jay Leno would remain respectful even if he hadn’t. O’Brien sat down with Steve Kroft for an exclusive ‘exit interview’ for “60 Minutes“, which aired this past Sunday just a day after the contractual TV gag order put on O’Brien by NBC had come to an end. The interview delved into the debacle once again, as Conan had never officially been able to discuss the split until now. O’Brien, who has embarked on a world wide tour since April, spoke about his need to perform again bringing him back to life and excitement about coming to cable next fall, when his other embargo from TV ends. Kroft went behind the scenes of the tour, seeing that O’Brien is definitely shining in the live performance spotlight, something Im assuming a TV show host of 15+ years would be very comfortable with.

And while Conan definitely kept his head up discussing the abrupt and shocking turn of events he went through with NBC reneging on their contract and deal with him, siding with Leno and his more expensive contract and doing it all without thinking of the folks involved, it was painful to know that he was still not sure why he was given the pink slip. When Kroft asked about his contact with both Leno and Jeff Zucker, head of NBC, he mentioned that neither of the “gentleman” had reached out to him, which is surprising since Zucker and O’Brien have been friends since their days at Harvard and Leno continuously believes he was just as screwed as O’Brien in this deal. He did lambast Zucker’s claims that NBC was losing money with his version of “The Tonight Show” and discussed how the show never had a chance to grow thanks to the lack of support from the network and lead-ins. And he did avoid the obvious snide jokes that could have been dealt to both men by just poking fun at Leno once by asking how he “was screwed again”? With his classic mix of Catholic neurosis and awkward timing, O’Brien exclaimed that he was fine and believed that this all “happened for a reason”. And from the looks of it, he’s right. CBS was first last night in the ratings, with “60 Minutes” pulling in 14.1MM viewers, about 4MM more than its average Sunday viewership. And his national tour is selling out in each city, so one can assume there are still many of us are on Team Coco. Now if his return to TV next Fall is successful, it could change the model of late night for TV all together. And if not, Im assuming Leno will be in the shadows cackling away. Either way, its refreshing to see someone involved within industry be thoughtful, introspective and self-aware that while losing one’s job is never easy, he is no way suffering right now. Conan O’Brien will most definitely survive.

One Response to “Keeping It Classy with Conan O’Brien”
  1. This interview was really good. Conan is amazing.

    Posted by: Robert May 3rd, 2010 at 3:00 pm