Conan O’Brien

Despite Plans For His Replacement, Leno Still Leads Ratings

Jay Leno and the “Tonight” show is one of the few remaining successful programs that NBC has on its network. So why would its executives think about getting rid of him?

NBC has confirmed that it is building a new studio for Jimmy Fallon at its New York headquarters but refuses to comment on reports that Fallon is due to replace Leno on a New York-based “Tonight” show as early as next year.

With Leno already taking potshots at network executives regularly in his monologue, the network risks repeating the nightmare of 2010, when Conan O’Brien failed at “Tonight” and NBC brought Leno back.

“They seem to be making the same mistakes over and over again with a new regime,” said Christine Becker, an associate professor at Notre Dame University and author of the News For TV Majors blog. “You kind of wonder what’s in the water at NBC that is making them make that decision.”

On its face, such a move would seem like a proactive strategy from NBC’s new corporate owners at Comcast Corp., known for its decisive decision-making.

Leno, 62, and his longtime rival David Letterman, 65, are approaching the end of their long late-night reigns. Fallon, 38 and with his own late-night show getting critical acclaim, represents the next generation. So does Jimmy Kimmel, 45, at ABC, and that network made the strategic chess move in January to give him the same time slot as Leno and Letterman.

Leno’s contract expires next year and so does Letterman’s, so some corporate fear might be involved: Does NBC risk losing Fallon to another network that can offer an earlier time slot than the 12:35 a.m. one he currently occupies? There’s also some concern that Kimmel will establish himself as the 11:35 p.m. favorite of a younger audience before Fallon can establish himself.

While all the corporate thinking is going on, Leno has continued to stay in the ratings lead.

That’s no small feat at NBC, which has seen its prime-time lineup collapse to historic ratings lows this winter. Leno, “Saturday Night Live,” and Brian Williams’ “Nightly News” are the only reliable ratings leaders left at the network.

Leno has held strong against the ratings challenge posed by Kimmel. So far this year, the “Tonight” show is averaging 3.42 million viewers, Letterman has 3.03 million and Kimmel has 2.57 million, according to the Nielsen Co. Leno is also leading among the 18-to-49-year-old age group that NBC considers most important. Leno’s and Letterman’s viewership has gone down from last year; Kimmel’s numbers aren’t comparable because he now has an earlier time slot.

If NBC is looking for an immediate infusion of youthful energy from Fallon’s audience, that may be optimistic.

While the average age of Leno’s audience is 58.1, the oldest in late-night, Fallon’s audience is less than five years younger at 53.3. Fallon also hasn’t been gaining in popularity; his average audience has slipped from 1.7 million last year to 1.6 million the year before, according to Nielsen.

Younger audiences seem to be elsewhere at that hour, either online or watching cable. The median age of O’Brien’s audience is 39.5 and Chelsea Handler’s is 35.6. Both Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have audiences with median ages of 42.

When O’Brien replaced Leno at “Tonight,” the audience didn’t follow. The “Tonight” show ratings dipped alarmingly, and NBC had to bring back Leno to stave off a revolt from its affiliates. There’s no guarantee that Fallon will succeed where O’Brien failed.

There’s also the specter of Ann Curry, which should be fresh in the minds of NBC’s new corporate ownership.

When NBC News replaced Curry as co-host of the “Today” show last summer, viewers reacted angrily — fixing much of their anger at Matt Lauer. “Today” was running neck-and-neck with ABC’s “Good Morning America” in the ratings at the time; now it regularly finishes second.

How Leno’s fans would react to the idea of him leaving the “Tonight” show before he wants is anybody’s guess. Leno, with a relentless run of jokes targeting the futility of NBC executives in recent weeks, doesn’t seem particularly happy.

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Ryan Gosling Invites Fan to Join Him on Talk Show

Ryan Gosling thrilled a female fan when he picked her from the studio audience to appear with him during an interview on Conan.

After acknowledging that many people frequent talk shows in a bid to get on camera, the movie star opted to make someone’s dream come true and invited pretty Linda from Westminster, California to join him onstage – and answer Conan O’Brien’s questions.

When he asked her about her hometown, Gosling whispered in the fan’s ear and she repeated his comedy comment, telling O’Brien, “I like your suit, do they make it for men?”

Gosling then whispered another line into his new friend’s ear and she repeated, “You have a big mouth and you just like to run it.”

O’Brien laughed and said, “This is the most hostile interview I’ve ever taken part in.”

Larry King Wants To Be Frozen After Death

CNN

Legendary CNN interviewer Larry King has revealed that he hopes to be cryogenically preserved after his death. Larry broke the news to a table of Hollywood A-listers during the network’s recent “CNN Presents: A Larry King Special: Dinner with the Kings” event. While speaking with guests including Russell Brand, Seth MacFarlane, Tyra Banks and Conan O’Brien, King revealed: “I want to be frozen on the hope that they’ll find whatever I died of and bring me back.”

O’Brien was the first to respond to the comment, saying: “This is big news. You would like to be frozen? This is news to me.”

To which King replied: “It’s the only hedging of a bet.”

Conan O’Brien on Max Weinberg Leaving

By mutual agreement, Conan O’Brien’s longtime bandleader, Max Weinberg will not be returning to lead the late night band he created in 1993 as Conan moves to his new home at TBS on November 8th.

Beginning on September 13th of 1993 “The Max Weinberg 7” and later “Max Weinberg and The Tonight Show Band” were favorites among both fans and critics.  With an uncanny ability to combine high quality music and unmatched comedic timing Max played a pivotal role in Conan O’Brien’s nightly shows. 

Conan O’Brien stated, “Max has been a huge part of my life for the past 17 years and he is an incredible band leader and musician.  I hope he can find time to stop by the new show, sit in with the band, and pretend to find my monologue funny.”  

Added Weinberg, “17 years–a lifetime on TV.  Conan and I met on a New York City street corner in the Spring of 1993 and my association with Conan, his staff, and crew has been a deeply rewarding experience for me.  And, making music with Jimmy Vivino, Mark Pender, La Bamba, Jerry Vivino, Scott Healey, Mike Merritt, and percussionist James Wormsworth enabled me to become a better musician and bandleader.  I thank them for their first rate work on the bandstand. I wish Conan and his show the best and I do look forward to dropping by.”

Conan O’Brien and TBS Announce New Show Title: Conan

Conan O’Brien’s new late-night series on TBS will have a familiar name to fans of the iconic host.  O’Brien’s third late-night show will simply be titledConan when he returns to television Monday, Nov. 8, at 11 p.m. (ET/PT) on TBS.
Conan O’Brien added, “I’m just using “Conan” and dropping the “O’Brien” because I want to get away from the whole Irish thing.”
Early in his career, O’Brien helmed the legendary Harvard Lampoon and wrote for television series icons Saturday Night Live and The Simpsons.  It was from there that he was championed by Lorne Michaels to host Late Night with Conan O’Brien, where he combined his talents as a writer, performer and interviewer from 1993 to 2008.  The two-time host of the Primetime EmmyÒ Awards then took over the reins of The Tonight Show.  O’Brien recently concluded touring the United States and Canada with his live show, Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour.
Conan will originate from Stage 15 at Warner Bros. Studios and will be produced by Conaco LLC.  Jeff Ross is the executive producer.