As Conan gears up for his TBS debut on Monday, November 8th with Seth Rogen, Lea Michele and musical guest Jack White, here are a few things to get you amped up.
2. Vanity Fair has an excerpt from Bill Carter’s new book digging deep into what happened in early 2010 when everything at NBC imploded.
Conan O’Brien wrapped up what he considered another strong show on the evening of Wednesday, January 6. The overall trend felt right; the shows were getting positive reviews. All the negative attention in the press was centering on Jay, and how his 10 p.m. show was wrecking the network.
And yet, as he gathered his writing and production group for the postmortem, Conan felt out of sorts. Realizing he was coming across as edgy, he dismissed the group early. Gavin Polone stayed around. Conan’s manager had dropped by the show that night. Nothing seemed in the least wrong about the show to Polone, but he knew Conan well enough to recognize the clouds circling above his star’s head.
“What’s wrong?” Polone asked. “That was a really funny show. Things are going great. The show is growing; you’re doing good work every night. The numbers aren’t there yet, but that’s because of Jay.”
Conan’s glum expression was unchanged. “I just have a bad feeling,” he said. “I just think Jay’s going to hurt me in some way.”
“You’re crazy!” Polone said. What could NBC do? Move Jay back?
That was clearly Conan’s fear.
Let’s go back for a second. When you found out NBC was gonna do what they were gonna do, was there was a part of you that thought, “They’re going to turn me into the guy who screwed up The Tonight Show“? Regardless of whether that’s true or not, was there a moment when you thought that’s how it would be spun?
Of course. You know, 65,000 thoughts occurred to me when all of this went down. Many of them negative. And yeah, you can’t see the forest for the trees at that moment. If you go back to, whatever it was, mid-January or whatever, I didn’t know how anything would turn out. I didn’t know if I would get another job. I didn’t know where that job would be. Everything I did, I had to do just out of feeling that this was the right thing to do at this moment, having no idea how it’s going to play out.
And then after that, even though I ended it the way I wanted to end — not when I wanted it to end, but I felt like, “Okay, I’ve acquitted myself well in that situation” — I had no idea, in February, March into April, I [still] didn’t know if I [was] going to work in television again. I thought there’d be possibilities out there. But I had a lot of anxiety and a lot of … I’m still processing what the hell happened. I mean, there’ll be books written about this. This was a very complicated pileup on a highway, and we need the experts, you know, to make a computer-generated image of what exactly happened here. I’m still going to be puzzling this one out when I’m 75 years old. I hope I won’t be spending a lot of time on it, but — there’s a lot of head-scratching elements to this, and there’s a lot of emotions. You do your best to move on, and try and say, “Here’s what motivates me.”
It really motivates me when someone says, “I saw that thing you did last night, it made me laugh.” I don’t care if it’s a wino in an alley who says it to me. I don’t care if it’s someone in the supermarket. I don’t care if it’s a teacher at my kid’s school. When someone says, “I saw you do this thing online,” or “I saw you do it on your show,” or “I saw it on viral,” or “It really made me laugh” — that’s why I do this.