What's in the News?

I don’t know how to stop being angry. For my whole life I’ve always been caught up on the difference between right and wrong. But as a kid I had little or no ownership of anything so seldom did I personally have to confront the emotions that unjust acts wrought. As an adult, things are quite different; I’m in a constant state of trying to detach my personal feelings from situations in hopes that I can keep my blood pressure down. The other tough thing is that when I fail to keep myself from feeling some personal offense by acts whether directed at me or not, I still have the secondary task of preventing myself from taking any action. Action, action, action…I can only compare my struggle to having hold of a brick and life being a constant stream windows adorned with Palin 2012 stickers (If that happens then the Mayans were spot on I say). It’s as if this world is begging me to introduce a brick to its forehead. The guys behind me in Con Law who won’t shut up every class, or the lady in front of me who refuses to drive more than 34 mph in a 35 mph zone, and then of course there’s my family...my lovely family. Indifference is no fun yet everyone seems to preach it. Live a good life and do better. Take the high road. Turn the other cheek- What a bunch of CRAP.

All these suggestions deny one simple truth, Happiness and the pursuit therein is of major concern for most every man woman and child on this Earth. And happiness for us sometimes is the direction we were looking. Turning my cheek means I must find a secondary happiness in this new direction I’ve been told to look. The high road is out of my way sometimes. And maybe, just maybe, I was already living well. I hate that there isn’t advice that doesn’t preclude me from enjoying the happiness I had settled upon before any disruption occured. Where’s the prophet saying, “Stand up for yourself”, “If someone comes between you and happiness, knock them out of the way”, or “there’s no bad time for a beatdown!” (I guess you could say Michael Wilbon is that man) I know many people say taking out your anger won’t make you happier, or two wrongs don’t equal a right, but who said anything about right? I just want reasonable. I mean if we can recognize that someone’s actions are harmful to another, then what’s right has already been cast aside. That victim was in hot pursuit of happiness I’m sure but now some other actor has come and prevented that, perhaps irreparably. So now you’d ask this victim to remain in support of what is “right”. What nonsense. All this I feel has been beautifully illustrated by last weeks series of Tonight Show episodes hosted by Mr. Conan O’Brien.

For those of us who’ve been paying any attention to the late night drama that is unfolding before us then you may well know that Conan O’Brien, this generations late night TV host of note, is being forced out of his spot at NBC. The story regarding Conan and how he got this spot in the first place won’t be rehashed here, but suffice it to say, he was promised his shot at hosting the Tonight Show 5 years ago and within months of taking the helm, he has been materially forced out. The reason that there is an argument is because Conan has ratings far below that of his predecessor (and successor?) Jay Leno. Leno however took over on the heels of Johnny Carson and used that wave of momentum to build a fan base, known today as “my parents”. Conan has the appeal the future late night viewing audience wants and is roundly hated by most people older than 35, yet the only reason Leno has higher ratings is because he has had decades to build up a viewer ship. Moreover people in my generation don’t even really know the value of good late night TV mainly because the likes of Jay Leno have killed what was once a storied franchise. We don’t have nearly the same interest in it as people who were able to see the program in its heyday.

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I’m going to contradict a future post of mine and for one second briefly mention that in 2004 when Conan signed on to be the successor to the Tonight Show he was given a raise of nearly $4 Million USD…per year. So to feel bad for a man making $8 Million bucks a year is hard to do, but trust me if ever there was an instance, it is this. Perhaps the most devastating negotiating tactic of all in this mess is that amid massive losses in revenue, and lagging in the ratings, NBC has sacrificed its own reputation just to reap the higher ratings. SNL, Late Night, and really anyone on NBC who can boost their ratings by making light of the situation are being allowed to. Why else would they invite ABC funny man Jimmy Kimmel onto Leno’s own 10 @ 10 to then eviscerate him to his face? Notice also that the proposed move of the Tonight Show to 12:05 hardly raised an eyebrow. Where NFL and MLB purists decreed the movement of their championship matches later into the year, there seem to be no late night TV fans that are upset with NBC for even thinking of moving the show. NBC has no shame it seems and the $35 Million or so they will most likely pay Conan and his staff is a pittance compared to the reported $60 million they would have owed him simply to just leave before any of this started 7 months ago. As many very intelligent people have pointed out, NBC exec Jeff Zucker seems to be making a short sighted move as Leno is nearing his 60th birthday. What will become of the Tonight Show when he does step down? Will he “Bret Favre” the situation and torment us all with a protracted standoff?

It's Official

Even those within the industry are known to dislike Leno for a variety of reasons. Most of Conan’s fans aren’t even home at 11:30 PM on weeknights, and if they are, the likelihood that they’re in some sort of pre or post coital fog is highly likely. His problem with ratings has more to do with lack of appeal to middle aged Midwesterners and his high brow comedy, than lack of talent. Nevertheless the story here is more about Conan and his options than what caused him to be in this situation. There is some conspiracy about whether he was simply fast tracked, presuming he would fail, just to avoid the payout. True or not, and no matter that original amount, Conan today is now set to be $35 Million richer. (the actual number depends on how long he stays off the air reportedly.) Not bad for a days work. The monologues Conan has been delivering however are masterful. He is blatantly ripping NBC, his bosses, and Leno all on company time. And what’s best about all this is that NBC is continuing to broadcast him night after night. Either way I have great respect and admiration for him. Conan wrote a smart, respectful, well thought out letter explaining the matter earlier this week, but when the lights were on and he was on air, he pulled no punches. I can’t imagine more than two days went by consecutively without Conan reminding us that this has been his life dream, and that he wanted nothing more than to live up to the storied franchise of which he was now a part. Sad is not what I feel. I’m glad he got a chance to stand up and throw his tantrum. I think those that watched him would say he was amazing in his sorrow over losing the show and though some would say he should have left it alone after issuing the statement, to them I say “I cannot wait to kick you in your teeth” because that’s basically what they’re asking him to accept NBC doing to him. Those high road idealists really get under my skin. I am impatient, and I am brash, but what I am not is a doormat. It warms my heart to see Conan go out the door at NBC with money in hand AND dignity intact. Bravo Conan. Bravo.

I’ve seen nearly every single one of Jimmy Fallon’s shows and to be honest he has come a long way in just his first season. No one on T.V. is more integrated into the show with hands on performances, and the way he commands the Roots deep and nearly limitless musical talent make him my best bet for a possible replacement. Not to mention access to A-list guests can’t hurt his show. But none of this really strikes me as what’s going to happen. If I were a gambling man (and I am!) my money is on Conan to make a Seth McFarlane like return to the “peacock” and not only command stupid amounts of money but to also lead the return of Late Night greatness at NBC. I can feel it almost! It just makes the most sense. I think they’ll both learn they need to other more than they realize. The picture at the top of this post is special to me. I found it thinking I could use it for a more personal post, but in the end it is a completely candid photo, of unposed people that very literally illustrates the situation Conan faces. We all only live once, and I'm a strong advocate of anyone doing what they can to ensure that this go 'round is their best because we've no guarantee of the length of this one, or certainty of another.


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