See you later, Conan O’Brien, wherever you are.
“All I ask is one thing, and I’m asking this particularly of young people that watch: Please do not be cynical. I hate cynicism. For the record, it’s my least favorite quality. It doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, I’m telling you, amazing things will happen.”
- Conan O’Brien
I really enjoyed watching the graceful farewell by Conan O’Brien, for his last show last Friday. Not a Will Ferrell fan, but I thought Conan joining Ferrell, Ben Harper, Beck (!), and others in a final jam session was his way of saying “see you around.” That he gave his thanks to NBC for his career (despite the bitterness of the situation) was touching, as was his thanks to the fans. Guests Steve Carrell and Tom Hanks were also cool.
Check out the highlights by Alan Sepinwall of the Star-Ledger; James Poniewozik in his Time Magazine blog “Tuned In”; Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune; and (but not least) Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly. Tucker also noted (which I had seen and thought was sweet) on Jimmy Fallon’s tribute to Conan from Conan’s old Late Late night studio at 30 Rockefeller.
Part of me feels like NBC did what any corporation does these days – look out for the bottom line and not necessarily care about long-term or big picture ideas or human feelings. Conan’s not perfect, but he at least made me think that NBC was trying to build for a future. Not to say that Jay was great or bad or whatnot, but making the drastic decisions NBC made in ditching prime-time for him and then daring to bring him back to late night, in the middle of trying to keep Conan but ultimately losing him anyway (as Poniewozik noted, NBC pretty much spent millions of dollars and 17 years of training someone else’s future late night host) – it’s kind of schizophrenic to me.
Honestly, I don’t understand corporations. And, thanks to the US Supreme Court, there’s an argument to be made that they’re almost like people now – just as nasty and insane (versus the argument to remind us that corporations should not be seen as the equivalent of people).
But, then what can we (as a culture, as corporate entities, as anything) do, when the latest generation doesn’t watch tv the way the previous ones do? Conan’s long term prospects were not clear when the young weren’t watching him at the time slot that he thought was important to obtain.
TV critic/commentator David Bianculli proposes that David Letterman invite Conan as a guest on the night Leno returns to the Tonight Show; maybe even as a silent guest or speaking via MadLibs (to comply with the settlement deal). Possible comedy gold mine. Or a very dramatic one.
Would Conan come back to NY, or continue trying to seek his fortune in California?
Not sure if I can agree with Conan’s statement about cynicism. I’ve been wondering about the difference between cynicism, realism, pragmatism, and pessimism, and how things optimistic are kind of hard to find. But, maybe if Conan says that amazing things can still happen, maybe there is a light out in the darkness after all.
Or maybe I’m just reading too much into things. Oh well.