Thursday, May 21, 2009

Conan O'Brien: After N.Y., L.A. feels like a "lunar landscape"

This Sunday's New York Times Magazine will feature a long article by Lynn Hirschberg about Conan O'Brien's takeover of "The Tonight Show" and Jay Leno's move to 10 PM. If you, like Talk Show News, have already read what feels like 800 articles about the changing of the guard at 11:30, especially Leno's remarkably thorough GQ interview, you won't find much new stuff in the piece, though it's worth reading just to learn that in the early days of "Late Night," a network exec once referred to now-beloved sidekick Andy Richter as "a big fat dildo." There is also a hint of what viewers of "Tonight" might see in the first couple weeks of the show:

Ideas were starting to take shape, too, many of them inspired by the [Universal Studios] back lot itself. [While Jay Leno's "Tonight" was taped in Burbank, Conan's new studio is in Universal City.] “Jaws” was a huge hit for Universal, and one writer suggested that Bruce, the mechanical shark, could occasionally drop by the show. “In our mind, he sounds like Paul Lynde,” O’Brien explained. “He dishes dirt about his co-stars.” The show had an exact replica of O’Brien’s desk built onto the front of a golf cart and, later that day, O’Brien was scheduled to take a short road trip through the studio. “We’re going to drive up to the ‘Psycho’ house and try and interview Norman Bates at the desk,” O’Brien said. “And maybe we’ll take a break during 1869 in Western Town. And then we’ll swing by the ‘Desperate Housewives’ set and try to see Eva Longoria in her trailer for an interview."
(Watch it, Conan, Eva might be holding out for George Lopez.)

“The hardest thing in L.A. is a destination,” said Conan about his new home. “I’m spoiled. I’ve had the destination in New York: Rockefeller Center. It’s the high temple of American TV, and we were smack-dab in the middle of it. L.A. is different. Everything can feel like the lunar landscape out here.”