What’s going on with Late Night?
by CNtributor Katie Epperson
As CNU’s resident Late Night Guru, I think it is time to weigh in on what is happening in the Late Night Realm.
The Tonight Show is a get! Fallon knows this, Leno knows this, Conan knew this, and God knows Letterman is aware! But in the end The Tonight Show is like that hooker that promises to be faithful to only one but in the end she’s just a whore with a pimp dressed like a peacock. The Late Night Wars are akin to a scene from Moulin Rouge.
We are all aware that Leno and Letterman hate each other because of that fancy hooker The Tonight Show (when Letterman thought he would be Carson’s successor but the network brought in Leno instead). We also know that both of their contracts are up in 2014. It’s a little foolish to speculate that in 2014 Leno will retire after going through all of the hullubaloo with Conan in ‘09 just to host for 4 more years. Even more foolish not knowing what Letterman’s future plans are.
Speaking of Conan, those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it! (Something I learned in my 6 month stint as a History Major). If I were Fallon, I would negotiate a few stipulations, which are entirely possible because as I understand, NBC holds the solution to their ratings problems versus Kimmel in their palm with Fallon.
- Sign a 2 year contract
Give that hooker a prenup! I can tell you, because I have done the research, that late night programs do not test well, do not rate well, and do not fend well with the critics in their first few months. It happened with Conan twice, once at Late Night, once at The Tonight Show, and Fallon. You can even go back and see that the same holds true for Steve Allen and Jack Paar. For Fallon to succeed, he needs to be given the time to try and fail without the fear of being given the axe at any moment. Conan tried to tailor his magic at Late Night to the older earlier 11:35 demographic of The Tonight Show but was yanked after 9 months. Fallon needs insurance!
- Keep your staff!
The Network will probably want to come in and clean house a bit and hire some writers that may be better suited towards the older demo. DON’T! The luxury of this is you will probably get more writers! Mike Shoemaker (current EP) should be the one to hire them, not the network! Fallon’s show would not be as successful without people like AD Miles, Mike Dicenzo, Amy Ozols, and Gerard Bradford (not to mention producer Gavin Purcell’s finger on the pulse of all things tech) who give the show a silly, random, and relevant voice in the late night world, which has produced a Grammy award winning album, 2 books, and earned 3 Emmy nods.
- Keep it in New York!
The Tonight Show started in New York, it can move back to New York. I paraphrase Woody Allen when I say, the only cultural advantage that LA has to offer is that you can turn right at a red light. I say this as a current resident of LA. Fallon is from New York, his staff is in New York, his fans are in New York, the Roots are east coasters. If Fallon were to move the show to LA and NBC shit the bed again like they did with Conan, his family and his staff would be SOL.
In regards to Howard Stern, this is a major risk and gamble for NBC to take. Putting aside the fact that there are so many other candidates that are fresher and possibly a better fit for Late Night if Fallon is to transition, Stern is well known for his wildly candid inappropriateness and a laissez-faire attitude that I envision will clash with NBC’s S&P.
Right now, everything is speculation. Until the May Upfronts or an official statement from Leno, Fallon, or NBC, I wouldn’t trust the Hollywood Reporter’s two insiders.
But if I were Fallon, I’d hold onto 12:37 and never let go.
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