Even though Conan O’Brien is down to his last two evenings as host of NBC’s Late Night franchise, he seems sad about his impending departure and a bit reticent on his new digs on the Tonight Show.
Instead of trumpeting his June 1 start date, Conan is being forced to play nice on the NBC playground with Jay Leno, even when outside observers like former NBC entertainment chief Warren Littlefield go on record with statements like this:
“Sure, Conan is still getting the ‘Tonight Show,’ but who are we kidding? Call it what you will. But if NBC hasn’t done it yet, you know they are going to at some point be saying: ‘Late night begins at 10 o’clock.'”
Ouch. You get the sense that Conan, who’s been patiently waiting to take over the sacred late night talk show for several years now, has to be feeling just a bit sandbagged by Jay Leno’s move to a 10 p.m. show.
Still, Conan is an easily likeable talkshow host. There’s an entire generation of people (35 and under) that have grown up with him as their prefered nightcap. The same devoted audience that are excited to follow him to The Late Show, excited about Leno’s departure.
“I’ve spent my fair share of time at 3 in the morning,” he tells the Times, “lying awake like Martin Sheen in the movie, staring at the ceiling fan, thinking about my trip up river — and we all know how that turned out.”
Which, if you read the entire article and extend the metaphor, Conan as Martin Sheen means that Jay Leno has to be crazy Marlon Brando