Friday, January 15, 2010
What is so important about NBC's late-night spat?
The only real question left unanswered about NBC's late-night schedule shakeup is why anybody outside of the television networks should care. Whether Jay Leno or Conan O'Brien or Jimmy Fallon or David Letterman or even Russell Brand and Katy Perry host the Tonight Show is not a big deal to anyone but Leno, O'Brien, Fallon, Letterman, Brand and Perry -- and their agents, of course -- despite all the mindless jawing on network television. Sure, O'Brien looks like the loser in this, since it's his tenure on NBC's Tonight Show -- a program with a long, mostly admirable history -- that faces the most uncertainty. But NBC is not threatening to kick him off its station without a penny -- he has more than two years left on a five-year contract and should get some $30 million if he loses the Tonight Show, according to the New York Times. Big deal. Thirty million and he's complaining? He'll never have to work another day in his life unless he wants to, and, if he does decide to, the unbelievable publicity of the last two weeks means he'll make a ton of money. His continuous pouting is at best disingenous and at worse -- well, something worse. An unnamed TV executive told the Times that under the most likely scenario, O'Brien will host the Tonight Show for one more week beginning Monday.