Tag Archives: Tonight Show

Deja View: Why Seth Meyers Would be the Wrong Choice as ‘Late Night’ Heir

The plot keeps thickening with the NBC late night situation, and it continued today with the buzz  that Lorne Michaels would like to anoint current “Weekend Update” anchor Seth Meyers as successor to Jimmy Fallon on Late Night, just as Meyers followed Fallon behind the Update desk (albeit, with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler in the interregnum). However, we think, in this case, Lorne might be making a poor decision.

With sources reporting that Jimmy Fallon will take over The Tonight Show in 2014 it’s only natural to start speculating who will replace him at 12:35am. And, similarly, it’s only natural to start speculating who Lorne Michaels will nominate for that position, as the show is produced his Broadway Video and it was he who plucked Conan O’Brien out of relative obscurity to launch the program in 1993 and who rescued Fallon from near-irrelevance to grab the reins in 2009. So whomever the next tenant of Studio 6B is will probably be chosen by Michaels and will likely come out of his comedy stable. However, while Meyers fits that bill, a longtime writer and cast member on SNL, he might be the wrong guy at the wrong time. He’s just too much in the Fallon mold, and the show would be wise to move in another direction.

More: History should repeat itself, but not exactly…

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‘Conan’ on TBS: Somewhat Funny, Very O’Brien

So it happened!  Conan O’Brien finally returned to TV, this time taking his talents to the basic cable shores of TBS.  The anticipation was palpable, and at 11pm EST Monday night we turned our TVs to see the redhead comedian’s triumphant, cathartic, possibly historic, debut.

And then at midnight, after Conan finished jamming with buddy Jack White, he signed off and George Lopez came on, an hour later than usual, but, with Daylight Saving time having just gone into effect, perhaps completely in line with our circadian rhythms.

And, well, the world had not changed.

Read on: The message or the medium, Andy shines and the Jewish elephant in the room…

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The One in Which We Compare Conan O’Brien to Barack Obama

Sometime around the beginning of this year I pondered the similarities between Conan O’Brien and President Barack Obama (and teased an upcoming blog post on the subject via Twitter).  With Conan’s new show premiering on TBS tonight, following the Republican tidal wave that swept into congress last week, and in doing so affixing a bold question mark onto Obama’s presidency, it seems like there’s no better time to finally revisit the parallel.  This comparison is perhaps more relevant, and possibly more darkly prescient, than ever.

When Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008 a collective sigh of relief escaped young voters across the country.  Actually, it was less a sigh of relief and more of a giddy shout.  Hope had won out.  Yes we could.  We had a charismatic leader, the sexiest president since JFK, who was certain to reverse the damage done by eight years under George W. Bush’s tyrannical reign.  And just like how JFK utilized his good looks and immense charm to capture the nation’s heart in the first televised presidential debate, badly outshining a sweaty, swarthy Richard Nixon, Obama used new media, most notably the internet, in a way no President had before.  He was a star for sure, but in a way we had never seen.  He galvanized the young, tech savvy populace, the early adopters who proclaimed their support on their Facebook and MySpace pages.  MTV had been encouraging late teens and twenty-somethings to Rock the Vote for many years, but in that election we truly had a rock star to endorse.  We were fed up with the Bush regime, with Republican rule, and we were energized, we were motivated, and we had Barack Obama, the son of a Kenyan immigrant, as our shining ray of hope.  And in that time it was a symbiotic relationship.  Obama inspired the poor, the hungry, the unemployed and recent college graduate masses, and they banded together to have their voices heard, to provide Obama with the spirit and the mandate.  He gave us hope, and we gave him our vote.

And then on that Tuesday night in November our prayers were answered.  Celebrations erupted on the streets of Williamsburg, citizens went wild in Chicago, and Hawaii cheered their native son.  We had won.  We had our guy.  And he would lead us to the promised land.

Or would he? And what does all this have to do with Conan O’Brien. Grab a snack and read on.

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Remember Like a Year Ago When All We Did was Write About Conan O’Brien and Jay Leno?

Well, now there’s a book (not written by us).  Bill Carter, who chronicled the first Tonight Show War in The Late Shift, is set to release The War for Late Night, an in-depth look at last winter’s late night talkie drama, what many of us referred to as the Jaypocalypse.  With Conan, beard and all, set to premiere his new show on TBS in just a matter of days, the book should be a fascinating recount of how the late night landscape was perhaps forever changed, and how, in the end, the skirmish might have been the best thing that ever happened to Conan O’Brien.

Read an except from The War for Late Night on Vanity Fair

And since there will inevitably be a movie based on the book, let’s remember the last one:

(Fun Fact: did you know that the actor who played Jay Leno in The Late Shift, Daniel Roebuck, went on to play Dr. Leslie Artz on Lost?  It’s true!  I know, right?!  Oh, and Letterman was played by John Michael Higgins, who is just generally awesome.  Crazy!)

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Filed under Flashback!, Literarally, LOST, Other people's stuff, Talkies

And Another Muppet + Someone Awesome Team-up! (Jimmy Fallon, You’ve Done It Again)

Jimmy Fallon, I like you more and more.

Ten years ago you were the object of affection of every girl in my AP European History class, and the envy of every guy (well, not every guy).  Then the constant giggling became kinda annoying, and then you went and made Taxi, and then you became sort of a joke.  And, to be completely honest, we were pretty skeptical when you were named Conan O’Brien’s Late Night successor.  Like the homecoming king who left the hometown only to flame out and return to work in his dad’s hardware store.

But damn if you haven’t gone and totally redeemed yourself.  But this isn’t really about you.  Rather, this isn’t really about your show.  We talked enough about that.  This is about you, once again, recognizing something brilliant.  In this case it’s the maze of pipes hidden inside of Studio 6B dressing room decorated by Jim Henson and his confederates 40 years ago, before an appearance on Jack Paar’s Tonight Show.  Fallon, love him or loathe him, appreciated the genius and made good on his promise to put the installation behind glass, and now the pipe-art is a new stop on the NBC Studio tour, as Fallon, along with Yoda, er, Frank Oz shows us here:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

And, just to show that the more things change the more they stay the same, and that everything is cyclical, here’s a 30 year-old video of Henson giving a tour of the pipes to Gene Shalit (!).  And look at that mop on Brokaw!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Guess I’ll have to go on the Studio tour now.  Even though it’ll be awkward to return to network headquarters after NBC brass screwed me over and took my show away.

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Filed under Intersection of the venn diagram of things that I love, Muppets, Other people's stuff

Monday Friday Nostalgia Corner: Hanx For the Memories

I wasn’t able to post to Nostalgia Corner last Friday because my day was just NUTS (okay, so my mom was visiting and I spent my scant free time writing about The Office clip show)!  So here’s a belated but still relevant edition.

As we all know (and have probably watched) by now Conan O’Brien closed out his tenure as host of the Tonight Show last Friday with guests Will Ferrell, Neil Young and Tom Hanks.  Vulture already noted that Hanks, a frequent late night visitor and guest on Conan’s second Tonight Show, also holds the distinction of appearing on David Letterman’s last show as host of Late Night. But I would like to focus less on Hanks’ propensity for appearing on sign-offs, but rather on his relationship with Conan O’Brien.  Conan often still seems like the young guy, the gawky, redheaded kid, but the truth his he’s being holding court in late night for 17 years, and he’s actually known Hanks for over 20 years, as O’Brien was a writer on SNL in the late 80s when Hanks was the go-to host (hosting five times in five years, on pace at the time to shatter all hosting records).  They even discussed this on the show last Friday, with Hanks revealing that he called Conan and his fellow writers Bob Odenkirk and Robert Smigel the “boiler-room boys.”  And the two sketches that Hanks is probably most associated with – “Mr. Short-Term Memory” & the “Girl Watchers” – were written by O’Brien, and Conan even appears in Hanks’ most memorable monologue “The Five Timer’s Club” (although Conan identifies himself as “Sean”).  But, for today, we’re going to highlight Hanks’ monologue from his third hosting stint in October of 1988, a bit that includes Conan’s first appearance on SNL (in denim vest!).  The ties that bind:

It’s true, Tom Hanks is the nicest guy in Hollywood.  Maybe in any wood.  And possibly the funniest.  Chris Rock once said that if Hanks had “grown up with less education, he’d be the greatest comedian who ever lived,” and I believe it.  I think it’s high that time Hanks attached himself to a straight-up comedy and showed these kids how it’s done (Bosom Buddies: The Movie???).

Bonus viewing: Conan lauding Hanks on Inside the Actor’s Studio.

Bonus social networking: follow Hanx on Twitter.

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Filed under Buffy & Hildegarde, Nostalgia Corner, Saturday Night Live, Talkies

Michael Ian Black Does Understand

If there was one comedian/mid-level celebrity whose career I’d like to emulate it would probably be Michael Ian Black (okay, there’s a laundry list of comedian/mid-level celebrities who careers I’d like to emulate, and an even longer list of A-list celebrities whose resumes I wouldn’t mind having.  But there are few people out there who I admire and appreciate at the level of Michael Ian Black.  One of the reasons I like Mr. Black so much is because, obviously, he’s as funny and smart as anyone else out there (if his work in I ♥ the [Insert Decade] didn’t convince you of that, check out his stand-up album I Am A Wonderful Man, an excellent performance from someone who is not known as a stand-up comedian).  But, beyond his humor, I especially appreciate the fact that he has the courage to say or write just about anything, the best examples of which are found on his Twitter feed, where he makes fun of everyone and everything from Asians to his kids to his wife cutting off the tip of her finger to himself.  Often times I’ll find myself wanting to tweet something potentially offensive, and I don’t do so because I fear that not everyone will get the joke; sarcasm and satire sometimes don’t play so well in less than 140 characters.  But Black has been able to pull that off, so much so that he’s participated in several Twitter fundraisers in which for a small donation he’ll make fun of you mercilessly, usually mocking your Twitter name or criticizing your photo.  He has created this persona of being an arrogant, insensitive asshole (again, refer to the name of his comedy album), which is a weird achievement to want to replicate, but it seems clear to me that it’s just a put-on.  It might be an extension of the real Michael Ian Black, but, if so, it’s a huge exaggeration.  I mean, he lives in Connecticut with his wife and kids (who he appears to loathe, if his tweets are to be believed), so how terrible can he really be?

Amidst this backdrop of bombastic, often crude, tweets and blog posts it was surprising that Black received the most backlash for a tweet he composed on Friday night to commemorate Conan O’Brien’s last night as host of The Tonight Show:

Typical trenchant, insightful, slightly dickish Michael Ian Black commentary.  But out of all his tweets this one caused the most commotion (although, as you can see, it was retweeted 100+ followers, so I guess not everyone was outraged).  It was a joke, but like many of his jokes, he had a point, a good point.  Which is another aspect of MIB I appreciate: his candor.  He’s a fan of Conan too, but the truth is Conan fans didn’t turn out in droves until these last two weeks, when it didn’t matter anymore.

So, to clarify his point, Black knew he needed more words than Twitter would allow, so he took to his blog (and spared us from a full on tweet procession), and exemplified another quality I admire: intelligence.  He composed his actual, and, as he noted, “unfunny” thoughts on the Conan situation, comparing Conan to Sally Fields in Norma Rae and asking “how did a Harvard-educated, multi-millionaire late night talk show host magically transmogrify into a guy who got laid off at the local car plant?”  Now I’ve basically been glued to the computer the last two weeks reading every update on the late night wars and watching every relevant monologue the night before, and I’ve even contributed my own thoughts, but Black does have a point.  In the end, it’s just millionaires playing in the sandbox, and Conan doesn’t really represent the oppressed, jobless masses.  In his essay, Black puts aside the sarcasm and the deadpan humor, presenting refreshing clarity about the whole thing.  I’m not sure I’ve read a better breakdown on the skirmish.  Despite the working title of his latest TV show, Michael Ian Black does understand.  A lot better than most of us.

Bonus: How I once gave Michael Ian Black unsolicited career advice. Sorry!

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