It seems like everywhere you look these days someone is writing about Leno, Conan, and NBC’s Late Night debacle. I don’t really watch late night television, but my sister interned for Conan before he moved to LA, and has been enjoying keeping me up to date as the drama unfolds.
Basically, NBC has decided to cancel Jay Leno at 10 p.m., move him to the 11:35 spot, then push back The Tonight Show back to 12:05 a.m., knocking Jimmy Fallon and the Late Night Show to 1:05. This idea has caused an uproar to say the least.
Conan released a statement on Tuesday (click here to read the entire statement) that outlined his feelings about moving to 12:05 a.m. In it he says, “I sincerely believe that delaying the Tonight Show into the next day to accommodate another comedy program will seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting. The Tonight Show at 12:05 simply isn’t the Tonight Show.”
He spent the majority of his career working and striving to sit at the desk made famous by Steve Allen, Jack Paar, Johnny Carson, and Jay, but he’s not just concerned about himself.
My sister and I hanging out on the Late Night set last spring
Conan is talking about the Tonight Show brand–what it stands for and what it means to represent the long history of the 11:35 time slot. Conan is not willing to abandon the vision, mission, and values of the show. Sound familiar? If not, then you haven’t read Sarah’s book.
Conan is willing to give up his dream job to protect the Tonight Show brand. A few things to consider: What are you willing to do protect your brand? Would you damage a 60-year history to accommodate the whim of a major donor? What are you doing now, so that 60 years down the road, people still feel a deep connection to your organization and what it stands for? Are you building a brand worth fighting for?
Nobody knows how this is going to end up or what is going to happen to the Tonight Show, but Conan has a few options.