By Bill Carter
A dramatic account of the politics and personalities in the back of NBC's calamitous try to reinvent late-night tv. while NBC made up our minds to maneuver Jay Leno into leading time to make room for Conan O'Brien to host the this night show-a activity he were promised 5 years earlier-skeptics expected a educate spoil for the a long time. It took, in reality, just a couple of months for the dire predictions to return precise. Leno's convey, panned by means of critics, dragged down the ratings-and the profits-of NBC's associates, whereas rankings for Conan's new this night convey plummeted to the bottom degrees in heritage. Conan's cave in, in the meantime, opened an unforeseen door of chance for rival David Letterman. What used to be a boisterous, offended, often hilarious public conflict that had thousands of astonished audience glued to their units. within the battle for past due evening, ny instances reporter invoice Carter bargains an in depth behind-the-scenes account of the occasions of the unforgettable 2009/2010 late-night season as all of its gamers- performers, manufacturers, brokers, and community executives-maneuvered to discover footing amid the transferring tectonic plates of tv tradition.
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Extra resources for The War for Late Night: When Leno Went Early and Television Went Crazy
He glanced at the big video monitor in the ersatz greenroom backstage, which showed the Roots pounding through their last warm-up number and the faces of the crowd, now settled into their seats. As he looked around, Williams noticed that in this room full of comics, few ever raised their eyes to the screen. Their demeanor reminded him of athletes at sports events, like Olympic skiers closing their eyes and mentally running through the course before being set loose onto the snow—a cross between that and jittery thoroughbred horses right before being loaded into the starting gate for the derby.
NBC had tried for years to convince him to come to New York for the upfronts or other events, but he had always declined. Though New York’s comic sensibility was widely acknowledged to be significantly different from what came out of LA—and certainly Vegas—Zucker didn’t believe Leno’s reluctance to play Manhattan had anything to do with his comic sensibility being wrong for the city. ) No, Zucker simply thought Jay hated New York, the idea of New York, Dave’s town. Somehow, psychologically, New York had become screwed up for Jay.
To show unity, they met in Unity, New Hampshire. ” Pause. ” Passable laughs to kick the act off, though they didn’t last long. Jay marched on double-time to Sarah Palin and Joe Biden, targets of choice from recent monologues on The Tonight Show, followed by one about the decision to close the prison camp in Guantánamo Bay. “See, that’s when you know the economy’s in bad shape. ” The jokes were coming so quickly that it was hard for the audience to laugh at one and catch the start of another. Jay was also moving, moving, traipsing around the stage, bending at the waist, leaning forward into the mic, which had the effect of swallowing up some of his words.