Tomorrow we turn another page on the calendar; May turns into June. But June 1st will also see another auspicious pop culture moment as one of the most revered seats on television gets a new as…um, as Conan O’Brien takes over for Jay Leno on The Tonight Show.
Jay, of course, took over that seat seventeen years ago (remember the Leno-Letterman competition?) and although he is no Brett Favre, it appears he had second thoughts about his initial decision to step down. NBC couldn’t back out of what was a very public transition (and who knows – maybe they want to skew younger?) but Jay landed quite nicely, thanks, now set to eat up five hours of prime time from 10-11pm Monday through Friday.
The optimist in me says that Leno, always a supporter of stand-up comedy, will do even more to bring that to the forefront. The pessimist in me says that if cutting edge comics were censored after 11:30pm…hoo-boy, are they going to get the scissors out now!
The pessimist in me also realizes that you can say good-bye to adult drama or comedy programming as 1/3 of the schedule – 50% if you discount the 8-9PM “family hour” – is now unavailable for the next Hill Street Blues or Arrested Development. But the optimist in me realizes that they just would have filled the schedule with variations of MILF Island, anyway.
As for Conan…how can he possibly be nervous? Rarely was anyone as unilaterally hounded as when his original talk show debuted. But Conan is sharp, smart and a survivor. He’s going to come out blazing. Besides, if anyone is nervous and worried, it should be Jimmy Fallon.
Maybe this Leno/O’Brien thing will be a win-win situation. Tune in tomorrow and start finding out.