I've been following the NBC late night TV shifts with some curiosity. Leno's leaving The Tonight Show, Conan's taking over the Tonight Show, and Jimmy Fallon is taking over Late Night.
Leno's final The Tonight Show is on May 29th - not soon enough for me - after which he'll be moving to a 9pm prime time slot so NBC doesn't have to come up with any original programming anymore.
Frankly I saw this as the network spitting in the eye of O'Brien. "Hey, we're giving you the Tonight Show when Leno retires." And then in a Favre-like dick move... "Whoops, Leno's not exactly retiring - so we're still going to have him on before you every night... just earlier."
As for Fallon, he's a funny and creative guy. I liked a good portion of what he used to do on SNL. I'm just hoping that he's matured enough that he'll be able to go five minutes without losing it and laughing at his own jokes. We'll find out next week when he takes over Late Night.
As for Conan, I'm really looking forward to his new time slot when he starts up June 1, much in the way I was thrilled to see Letterman move up over a decade ago. And today I saw even better news: Andy Richter will be joining Conan as announcer for the show, much in the way he used to work on Conan's Late Night and probably a little of the Ed McMahon vibe from Carson's Tonight Show. Richter is hilarious and will definitely add to the show - I'm hoping they bring back the old staring contests.
For the last few years, I've had a solid late night schedule: Daily Show at 10. Colbert at 10:30 while flipping over to Letterman. Then Craig Ferguson's monologue, followed by the rest of Conan O'Brien. Now this will make it tougher for me to decide what to watch at 10:30... I still love Dave... but Conan with Andy is a powerful duo. And will Fallon have the chops to pull me away from Ferguson's brilliantly stream-of-consciousness monologues?
I'll definitely be staying up to find out.