During the whole Conan O’Brien-Jay Leno-NBC-f-cktard scandal over the past month, I always put the majority of the blame with NBC’s knuckleheaded executives. While I didn’t (and still don’t) care for Jay Leno, I thought that most of what was happening wasn’t necessarily his fault. After watching the first half of his interview with Oprah, I really don’t feel that way anymore. Leno is a douche.
What’s worse is that Leno knows he has come out the scandal looking like a douche, and he sat down with Oprah to try to explain his side of the story. Well… Leno needed some media coaching, because, in my opinion, he came across as one of the bigger hypocrites ever to achieve fame and fortune. Very little of Leno’s words were directed to or about Conan – Leno was too busy playing the victim and trying to gloss over some of his bigger d-ck moves. PopEater has some of the text of the interview:
With all eyes on Jay Leno, he sat down with Oprah Winfrey for his first interview since the blow-up over NBC’s late-night lineup. While he admits having some regrets, Leno’s deepest scars seem to stretch back to 2004 when NBC first announced Conan O’Brien would be taking over the show in 2009. “It broke my heart. It really did. I was devastated,” Leno said. “This was the job that I had always wanted and this was the only job that ever mattered in show business, to me…. It was just like, why?”
Later in the interview, Leno refused to take blame for taking away Conan’s dream. “This is an affiliate decision. Affiliates felt that the ratings were low. This was the first time in the 60-year history of ‘The Tonight Show’ that ‘The Tonight Show’ would have lost money. And that’s what it comes down to. It’s really just a matter of dollars and cents.”
Earlier this month, O’Brien walked away from the late-night institution when NBC executives announced that they wanted Leno to once again follow the local news and move O’Brien’s ‘Tonight Show’ to 12:05 a.m. ET. Leno returns to ‘The Tonight Show’ March 1.
According to Leno, NBC came to him and talked about the ratings, saying Conan and Leno were both down. NBC executives then assured him that he was a “valuable asset” and they were “75 percent sure” Conan would go for the revised plan, which would have had Leno doing a 30-minute show at 11:30 p.m. ET.
Oprah grills Leno about why he didn’t consult Conan before agreeing to the new plan. “It wasn’t my place to call Conan,” Leno said. “They made this offer to me. And I said, ‘Do you think Conan will go for this?’ And they said, ‘We’ll ask him tomorrow.’ ‘OK, let me know what happens.’ And the next thingyou know, Conan had his article in the paper and that was that.”
Blaming NBC for the late night debacle, Leno adds, “Anything they did would have been better than this… If they had come in and shot everybody. It would have been ‘Oh, people were murdered,’ but at least it would have been a two-day story. NBC could not have handled it worse.”
Here’s my biggest point about Jay Leno and his “Coco failed in the ratings, that’s why I sacked up” argument: Leno failed in the ratings too. As he admitted during the interview, The Jay Leno Show was cancelled because of ratings – and, Leno claims, because of the complaints of affiliates. So if Coco failed in the ratings, and Leno failed in the ratings, why does that mean Leno gets a second chance and Coco doesn’t?
And why doesn’t anyone – from Leno to the NBC executives – acknowledge that Leno’s 10 p.m. show was a horrible lead-in for the Tonight Show? I mean, the whole “the affiliates were unhappy” argument works just as well for Coco! After spending a few minutes with Leno, people turned off their televisions, destroying the ratings of not only local NBC evening news, but also the Tonight Show. If NBC really believed in Coco, they would have given him a chance without Leno as a God-awful lead-in. But instead, NBC executives, and Leno himself, continue to throw Coco under the bus, as if he is the sole reason for the Tonight Show’s losses.
Sorry I went off like that. The older I get, the more I realize that I could do so many of these jobs better than the chuckleheads currently running the networks. In happier news, NBC has picked up a Coco-produced drama for next fall. And Coco’s last week on the Tonight Show was his best week ever, as far as ratings go.