Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Jeff Goldblum: Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated

It's a slow week for late night shows, since most of them are on pre-Fourth of July vacations, but at least Comedy Central is providing some new programming -- both "The Daily Show" and "Colbert Report" are airing fresh episodes this week (they'll be in reruns next week).

Last night's "Colbert" had a terrific guest appearance by Jeff Goldblum, who has popped up on the show twice in the last couple of weeks to speak up for flies and plug his TV show ("Law and Order Criminal Intent," Sundays on USA!). Rumors were flying around the Twittersphere that Goldblum had perished by falling off a cliff in New Zealand. Watch the hilarity that ensues when Goldblum tries to convince Stephen that he is, indeed, alive:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Jeff Goldblum Will Be Missed
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorJeff Goldblum

Friday, June 26, 2009

CBS gearing up to battle Jay Leno in the fall

In the grand tradition of clever acronyms like "(The Man from) U.N.C.L.E." and CAN-SPAM, it's time for... Project L.E.N.O.! Variety is reporting that CBS is launching a new marketing plan, dubbed L.E.N.O. for "Late prime Enhanced News Opportunity," although you'd think that would make it "LPENO." Never mind that, though -- let's find out what this exciting new initiative entails:

Eye marketing execs have decided to go a step further and put together a 10 p.m. "tool kit" for stations to promote the hour, include sponsorable broadcast spots, Web banners and radio spots, as well as behind-the-scenes vignettes... According to CBS marketing chief George Schweitzer, the net will use all its fall co-op money -- the marketing partnership with stations, in which [affiliates] pay half and the network pays half -- in order to promote 10 p.m. series.
Those 10 o'clock shows include "CSI: Miami," "The Good Wife," "CSI: NY," "The Mentalist" (which is moving to a new, later time slot), and "Numbers." The benefit for affiliates could be higher ratings (and bigger advertising dollars) for their 11 PM local news shows.

Schweitzer -- that kidder! -- joked that it was coincidence that the name of the initiative just happened to share the same name as the talk show host who will be competing with CBS during the 10 PM time slot. "You know us marketing guys, we love acronyms," he said. "The alphabet, after all, is in the public domain."

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Late Night Ratings: David Letterman pulls ahead in total viewers

During the week of June 15, "Late Show with David Letterman" scored 200,000 more viewers than "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien." Those numbers are from an NBC press release -- and, natch, the Peacock is spinning the fact that Coco's viewers are younger than Dave's:

Conan won the week by a 67 percent margin in adult 18-49 viewers (1.8 million adults 18-49 vs. 1.1 million for "Late Show"), up from a 53 percent win during the same week last year and up from a 34 percent "Tonight" margin for the season through the end of May.

In the younger half of the key 18-49 demographic, adults 18-34, Conan won the week by a towering 164 percent margin (930,000 adults 18-34 vs. "Late Show's" 352,000), up from 103 percent for the same week last year and up from 50 percent for "Tonight" this season through the end of May.
The press release also includes some interesting info regarding the average age of late night viewers. During the week of June 15, the median age of Conan's audience was 45.8; Letterman's, 57.0; Jimmy Fallon, 44.0; Craig Ferguson, 53.5; "Nightline," 57.9; and "Jimmy Kimmel Live," 53.1.

Here are the weekly averages (total viewers):

11:35 p.m. ET
NBC "Tonight," 3.3 million viewers
CBS "Late Show," 3.5 million viewers
ABC "Nightline," 3.0 million viewers

12:05 a.m. ET
ABC "Kimmel," 1.3 million viewers

12:35 a.m. ET
NBC "Late Night," 1.6 million viewers
CBS "Late Late Show," 1.5 million viewers

1:35 a.m. ET
NBC "Last Call," 0.9 million viewers

Comedy Central, 11 p.m. ET, "The Daily Show," 1.6 million
Comedy Central, 11:30 p.m. ET, "The Colbert Report," 1.3 million

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Former "Tonight Show" announcer Ed McMahon dies

The New York Times is reporting that Ed McMahon, Johnny Carson's second banana for nearly 30 years, died earlier today at the age of 86.

For late night watchers who were too young to remember McMahon on "Tonight," he may be best remembered as something of a pop culture punchline. Recently, he's appeared with rapper M.C. Hammer on "Cash for Gold" commercials, and last year, he was forced to sell his Beverly Hills mansion after falling behind on his mortgage. Last summer, Jimmy Kimmel brought him on as a pitchman for Pontiac autos.

McMahon was also satirized on "Saturday Night Live" in sketches featuring Dana Carvey as Carson and Phil Hartman as McMahon. Hartman's "You are correct, sir!" became something of a catchphrase. "I don't remember ever saying, 'You are correct, sir!' Phil Hartman made that famous, and now I have to try my best to imitate Phil Hartman imitating me," said McMahon in an online chat several years ago.

Besides "Tonight," McMahon will also be remembered for his frequent appearances on Jerry Lewis's Muscular Dystrophy telethon, and his stints hosting "Star Search" and "TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes." But his most lasting legacy is two words long: "Heeeeeeeeeeere's Johnny!"

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Conan O'Brien: On vacation already?

An anonymous commenter left the following remark on this entry: "Conan's already got a week of repeats coming up?! Has it even been a month yet? Yeah Conan, take a break!!!"

Yes, it's true -- after four weeks at the "Tonight Show" helm, O'Brien is taking a week off, from June 29-July 3. However, almost every talk show is going dark that week, due to the 4th of July holiday. Presumably, viewing levels are down as people go to their lakeside cabins, or whatever it is people do during summer holidays.

At this point, it looks like the lone holdout is "Live with Regis and Kelly," which plans a week of fresh shows in the run-up to Independence Day. Perhaps those of us who will be home that week and are not planning to turn off our TVs should take the opportunity to try something different -- if you're a Conan fan, watch Dave's repeats for a week, or vice versa. Let's call a weeklong truce in the late-night wars!

Here is Conan's repeat schedule. (Talk Show News heartily recommends the July 2 episode with Norm MacDonald.)

Mo 6/29: Tom Hanks, Green Day (R 6/2/09)
Tu 6/30: Gwyneth Paltrow, Joel McHale, John Mayer Trio (R 6/4/09)
We 7/1: Eddie Murphy, Angela Kinsey, Bonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal (R 6/9/09)
Th 7/2: Norm MacDonald, Jim Gaffigan, Neko Case (R 6/11/09)
Fr 7/3: Kobe Bryant, William Shatner, Incubus (R 6/17/09)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Late Night Ratings: Is David Letterman winning over Jay's audience?

The latest set of numbers is out and it looks like Conan O'Brien is continuing to win in the "important audience categor[ies]" -- ouch, it must hurt to be over 49 and no longer be important -- but Dave is doing well when you just look at the numbers. "[W]hen all viewers are counted [Conan's] lead over Mr. Letterman is just over 100,000, with 3.771 million to 3.669 million for Mr. Letterman," reports the New York Times. The average age of Dave's viewers is 56.7, compared with 45.7 for Conan. (Jay Leno had a median viewer age of 55.7, so presumably the 10-year drop is why NBC is rejoicing.)

Conan scored 1.040 million 18-34-year-old viewers in his second week on the air, vs. Dave's 376,000. In the 18-49 category, Conan had 2.013 million viewers vs. 1.126 million for Dave. "Even in the oldest group that is used to sell to advertisers, viewers between 25 and 54," writes the Times' Bill Carter, "Mr. O’Brien had a commanding 38 per cent lead with 2.050 million viewers to 1.486 million for Mr. Letterman." Presumably some of Leno's disgruntled 55+ viewers have started switching over to CBS at 11:35; hopefully "Late Show" won't be inundated with ads for adult diapers and erectile dysfunction drugs, a la the old-skewing evening network news programs.

Meanwhile, Aaron Barnhart's analysis of Conan's first couple of weeks makes some fresh points, especially about the frenetic audience reaction when Coco walks out on stage:

I watched the clock and on Wednesday’s broadcast it took Conan 97 seconds from the end of Richter’s “O’Brieeen” to introducing his first joke. Most of that 97 seconds consisted of the crowd going nuts, Conan telling the crowd to calm down, the crowd going nuts some more, Conan looking nervously impatient, etc. On Tuesday’s show the delay was 77 seconds, and Monday’s “Tonight” monologue started 95 seconds after the host walked out. By comparison, the host of the CBS “Late Show” started his first joke a brisk 39 seconds after Kalter’s “Lllllletterman!”
Talk Show News has noticed the same thing happening on "The Colbert Report" -- on last night's show, it took 55 seconds for the audience to settle down. Now, we have attended many a live taping and know that the warm-up guys try their darndest to get everybody pumped before the show starts. But if you are watching at home, it is annoying. Viewers tune in to see comedy, not listen to applause.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Jason Jones: Reporting from Iran

With Iran much in the news due to its recent election, "The Daily Show" is rolling out a weeklong series of reports from the country from correspondent Jason Jones, to be called "Access of Evil."

In an interview with the New York Daily News, Jones took a humorous poke at fellow Comedy Central personality Stephen Colbert's recent series of shows from Baghdad. "I applaud what Stephen did, but he did have the entire United States military backing him up," Jones told the Daily News.

"For our trip, I had Jason's back and Jason had mine," said producer Tim Greenberg, who accompanied Jones to Iran. "And that was it."

Jones interviewed several Iranian citizens, including a family, an underground rapper and a feminist blogger. He also attended a speech by President Ahmadinejad. The reports will air starting Monday the 22nd. (The first piece, "Behind the Veil - Minarets of Menace," aired last night; watch it on "The Daily Show"'s web site.)

Craig Ferguson: I wanted to kill myself

photoCraig Ferguson's bio American on Purpose, which Talk Show News first posted about way back in January, will be out on Sept. 15, and the New York Daily News is reporting that one of the things Ferguson will write about in the book is his pre-rehab, pre-fame brush with suicide:

...one Christmas morning he woke up in a tavern storage room amid his own vomit and urine − or at least what he hoped was his own. It was the lowest point of his life.

The comedian writes, “I felt worse than I ever had. ... I was a drunk, a loser and a disaster as a human being. ... The shame was immense. It pushed down on me like a terrible weight.”

And it led him to decide it was time for him to die.

The pub was near the Tower Bridge over the Thames, and Ferguson made a plan to jump in. He was on his way, but bumped into a friend who cheered him up, inadvertently saving his life...
Ferguson fans who would like to hear the book in Craig's own voice will be happy to hear that it will also be available as an audio book.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Palin to Letterman: Apology accepted

Sarah Palin has accepted David Letterman's apology for his jokes about her daughter. But she couldn't resist twisting the knife a little bit.

"Of course it's accepted on behalf of young women, like my daughters, who hope men who 'joke' about public displays of sexual exploitation of girls will soon evolve," Palin said in a statement late on Monday night (quoted in this Reuters article).

"Letterman certainly has the right to 'joke' about whatever he wants to, and thankfully we have the right to express our reaction," she said.

Meanwhile, the "Fire David Letterman" rally is apparently still on for today at 4:30 PM. "I'm glad he's acknowledged we're right. I think it's a good first step in the right direction, but I don't think it's enough," says a statement attributed to talk show host John Ziegler on the anti-Dave site.

Talk Show News will be very glad when this story is but a distant memory. Dave's not going anywhere -- deal with it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

David Letterman apologizes for Palin joke

Can we call off the rally now? David Letterman has apologized for his jokes about Gov. Sarah Palin and her daughter.

TV Week has a full transcript of Letterman's apology, which will be broadcast on tonight's show (featuring guests Jack Black and scientist M.A. Sanjayan). Calling the jokes "beyond flawed," he took "full blame" for them.

Here's an excerpt of Dave's remarks:

I told a bad joke. I told a joke that was beyond flawed, and my intent is completely meaningless compared to the perception. And since it was a joke I told, I feel that I need to do the right thing here and apologize for having told that joke. It's not your fault that it was misunderstood, it's my fault that it was misunderstood... So I would like to apologize, especially to the two daughters involved, Bristol and Willow, and also to the Governor and her family and everybody else who was outraged by the joke. I'm sorry about it and I'll try to do better in the future. Thank you very much.

Paul Shaffer: He could have been George Costanza

photoDavid Letterman's longtime bandleader Paul Shaffer has written a memoir. Titled We'll Be Here For the Rest of Our Lives: A Swingin' Show-biz Saga, the book will be published by Random House on Oct. 13.

Here's the publisher's blurb about the book:
"How does a kid go from a remote Canadian town at the tip of Lake Superior to the bright lights of Broadway and a gig leading the band on 'Letterman'? This book is Paul Shaffer's answer to that question. From playing seedy strip joints in Toronto, to his first legitimate job out of college -- which found him working with future stars (and friends) Gilda Radner, Martin Short, and Eugene Levy -- to being first musical director of the nascent 'Saturday Night Live' and helping to form the Blues Brothers, to being onstage every night with Dave and playing with the greatest musicians of our time, Shaffer has lived the ultimate showbiz life.

"Now, in this hilarious, entertaining, and candid memoir -- in which he dishes on everyone from John Belushi and Jerry Lewis to Mel Gibson and Britney Spears -- Paul gives us the full behind-the-scenes story of his life, from banging out pop tunes on the piano at the age of twelve to leading the band every night at the Sullivan Theater."

The New York Daily News offers one yummy tidbit. Shaffer "reveals he was offered the role of George Costanza before it went to Jason Alexander. Seinfeld handpicked Shaffer for the role and told him, 'There’s no audition ... You’ve got the part. Just call us back!'

"Shaffer never responded -- the music man says he was too busy to accept the role."

The book was written with David Ritz, who has collaborated with a wide range of music-biz celebs, including Don Rickles, Etta James, Priscilla Presley, Ray Charles, B.B. King and Grandmaster Flash.

Letterman vs. Palin: This is officially getting ridiculous

Fire David Letterman! That is the rallying cry of a web site and Facebook group that is trying to get CBS to ax the host due to his comments about Sarah Palin's daughter.

The site says, "David Letterman Must Held Be Accountable For His Disgraceful Statements. 62 Year Old Letterman Violates Common Decency With Sexist Insults of 14 Year Old Girl." There's also a list of "Late Show" advertisers (so you can write to them and demand they pull their ads from Letterman's show).

According to the New York Daily News, one of the organizers of the group is New York State Assembly member Brian Kolb, whose web site features the following quote from Samuel Adams: "It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds." "Firing Mr. Letterman would send a clear message that CBS will not tolerate any of its employees even an established media figure like Mr. Letterman making demeaning and degrading comments about women," Kolb wrote to CBS' Les Moonves.

The group plans to rally outside the Ed Sullivan Theater tomorrow at 4:30 PM.

Talk Show News recommends James Hibberd's essay about the controversy. Here's a sample:

...The way Palin has managed to turn Letterman’s jokes into an increasingly dramatic media spectacle centered around her underage daughter’s sexual well being is so icky — an opportunistic overreaction that would seem more damaging to her teen’s self-esteem than the original joke.

Palin called Letterman "sexually perverted" and “inappropriate" on Fox News and, in a response to an invitation by Letterman to come on his show, her office replied: “It would be wise to keep Willow away from David Letterman” — all stunningly upping the ante by suggesting the veteran host should now be considered some kind of sex offender.

One expects a late-night host to sometimes cross the line of good taste when making jokes. One doesn't expect the governor -- a political leader taken seriously by millions -- to respond by accusing the comedian of personally having criminal intentions.
If any Talk Show News readers happen to be in the vicinity of the Ed Sullivan Theater tomorrow afternoon (hopefully not as part of the rally), please send us a report.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Late Night Demographics: Average age of "Daily Show" and "Colbert" viewers creeping up

If you're unfortunate enough to be over the age of 49, you no doubt realize that no one cares about you... or, rather, advertisers and network execs don't care about your late night TV viewing habits. NBC is practically dancing a gleeful jig over the fact that people in the 18-49 age group have been tuning in to "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien." Those graying Jay Leno fans can go jump off a cliff (at least until September, anyway).

Now, however, Forbes.com is reporting that Baby Boomers may be switching their late night allegiance to Comedy Central's 46-year-old Jon Stewart and 45-year-old Stephen Colbert. "[T]he number of people older than 55 watching 'The Daily Show' rose by 25% [in May 2009, compared with May 2008], 22% for 'The Colbert Report.'" More ominously, "the number of people between the ages of 18 and 34 (the most coveted demographic) watching 'The Daily Show' fell 14%, 15% for 'The Colbert Report.'"

"When you start to see the age creep up on a show like that, you wonder whether the show is sustainable," warned Laura Caraccioli-Davis, head of entertainment at media planning agency Starcom. "It's systematic of the fact that at Comedy Central they need to continue developing shows for younger viewers."

The median age of "Daily Show" viewers in May 2009 was 41.4, and the median age of "Colbert Report" viewers was 38.3. That's still pretty youthful compared to "The Late Show with David Letterman" (54) and the Leno-era "Tonight Show" (55).

Maybe Comedy Central needs to take a tip from "Logan's Run" and come up with a way to make its network disappear from the cable systems of homes when the inhabitants turn 50. Or maybe they can force Stewart off the air, Leno-style, and replace him with Dane Cook. Who needs Emmys when you're trying to attract 18-to-34-year-old men?

Ironically, last night's "Daily Show" guest was CBS News anchor Katie Couric, and Jon spent a fair amount of the segment joking about her aging viewers.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

"The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet" ends its run June 12

Jay Leno's final "Tonight Show" got mountains of hype, but who will mourn the passing of "The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet"? The syndicated chat show ends its run tomorrow after 2 1/2 years with TV legend Betty White and regular guests Geraldo Rivera and Jeanine Pirro. Reruns will continue airing during the rest of the summer.

"The Morning Show" will likely be best remembered for spawning the "Spaghetti Cat" meme. The program cut to an odd clip of a cat eating spaghetti during an interview about binge drinking -- presumably it was used instead of "bleep"ing a curse word. For a while, the cat became a regular feature on E!'s satirical show "The Soup."

"View" host Joy Behar gets her own show

Joy Behar is coming to HLN (a.k.a. CNN Headline News). The New York Times reported that Behar has been tapped to host a 9 PM chat show that will be “topical and fun.” "The Joy Behar Show" will begin airing in September and will replace the regular rebroadcast of "Lou Dobbs Tonight," which originally airs at 4 or 7 PM, depending on your time zone.

Fear not, "View" fans -- Behar will keep her day job on the popular gabfest.

Late Night Ratings: NBC declares victory, Conan O'Brien crowned "the new king of late night"

After a grand total of eight shows, NBC has called it: Conan O'Brien is "the new king of late night."

The hotly awaited demographics on the "Tonight" vs. "Late Show with David Letterman" first week battle are in, and not surprisingly, it shows that the much-coveted younger demos tuned in to watch O'Brien in large numbers. According to an NBC press release, CoCo "won the week of June 1-5 with a 2.3 rating in the key measure of adults 18-49, the highest rated week for 'The Tonight Show' in more than four years, and a towering 156 percent margin over CBS’s 'Late Show with David Letterman' in adults 18-49. Even excluding the highly rated premiere show on June 1, Conan won the week with a 1.9 rating among adults 18-49 and by 111 percent over the CBS program (0.9)."

“This is beyond our wildest expectations,” said Rick Ludwin, Executive Vice President, Late Night and Primetime Series, NBC Entertainment. “Conan has brought new younger viewers to 11:35 pm and we're gratified that the demographic trend has continued here in week two, where the early numbers continue to show dominant victories, in all the key categories, for ‘The Tonight Show’.”

Guys, it's been one week. We know you're super excited (and want to put an end to the doom-and-gloom talk after Letterman beat O'Brien in overall ratings on Tuesday night), but turn down the hyperbole a notch, willya?

This came, incidentally, one day after NBC co-chair Marc Graboff declared that the late-night ratings game "is a marathon," not a sprint, and that this is a contest that will be fought over years.

Last night's ratings showed that more people tuned in to see Conan banter with Dane Cook than saw Letterman semi-apologize for his Palin jokes, though it was close: a 3.2 rating for Conan vs. 3.1 for Dave.

Meanwhile, Talk Show News wakes up every morning grateful to be under the age of 49, since once that Rubicon is crossed, no one will ever care about our viewing habits again. And you thought getting an invitation to join the AARP was painful.

David Letterman addresses controversy, invites Sarah Palin on his show

As if the late night battle couldn't get any hotter, David Letterman has spent the past couple days dealing with the controversy over some jokes he told involving Sarah Palin's daughter. On Wednesday night, Dave spent a full segment of his show addressing the issue and inviting the Alaska governor to come on his program as a guest.

"I would never, never make jokes about raping or having sex of any description with a 14-year-old girl," said Letterman sincerely. "I mean, look at my record. It has never happened. I don't think it's funny. I would never think it was funny. I wouldn't put it in a joke."

"Governor Palin, if you're watching, I would like you to consider coming to New York City -- you and Todd as my guests, or leave Todd at home."

Dave told the jokes in the apparent belief that he was talking about Bristol Palin, who became America's most famous unwed teen mom during the 2008 campaign. "During the seventh inning [of a Yankees game the Palins attended during a trip to New York], her daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez." In reality, the governor attended the game with 14-year-old Willow, not 18-year-old Bristol, leading her to denounce Dave's jokes as "sexually perverted" and "disgusting."

Following a Stupid Human Tricks segment in which a man shoved a fork up his nose and used it to feed his wife spaghetti -- watch it on the "Late Show" web site, if you dare -- Letterman welcomed Kathy Griffin, who referred to the governor as a "moron" and her snow-machine-riding husband Todd as a "tool." It was the first "Late Show" appearance for the comedian since 1997; she has claimed in the past that she was "banned" from coming on the show, but at the end of her segment, Letterman invited her back. Griffin's jokes about her 89-year-old "alcoholic" mom, Oprah sidekick Gayle King and Ryan Seacrest didn't seem all that controversial after the Letterman/Palin dust-up.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Late Night Ratings: David Letterman tops Conan O'Brien

The viewers have spoken, and they decided they'd rather see Julia Roberts banter with David Letterman about his recent marriage than watch Eddie Murphy plug his new flick to Conan O'Brien. On Tuesday night, Letterman scored a decisive victory, beating "The Tonight Show" in the ratings by a significant margin (3.4 rating in the overnight numbers vs. Conan's 2.9). That tops the Howard Stern-powered 3.0 he got on Monday, which put him just a tenth of a point behind O'Brien.

"Late Show" also featured an appearance by hitmaking group Black Eyed Peas on the day their new album was released.

The New York Times speculates that the late finish of last night's NBA playoff game on ABC and Stephen Colbert's special week of shows from Iraq may have cut into O'Brien's younger demographic. "Still, the turnaround has been unmistakable," writes the Times' Bill Carter. "On Tuesday night, Mr. Letterman averaged a 3.4 rating in the overnight numbers, to a 2.9 for Mr. O’Brien. A night before Mr. O’Brien had eked out a win in that measurement, 3.1 to 3.0. But the track for Mr. O’Brien has been as follows: 7.1, 5.0, 4.3, 3.8, 3.5, 3.1 and now 2.9."

Letterman isn't backing down; this week's guest lineup is a powerhouse. Tonight, Dave welcomes Kathy Griffin and the always popular Stupid Human Tricks (we'll guess that there aren't enough aging hipsters planning to tune in for Sonic Youth to significantly impact the ratings). Tomorrow, Denzel Washington makes his only late night talk show appearance (he sat down with Jimmy Kimmel for a "Game Night" prime-time special), along with the Jonas Brothers and a Top Ten List from Dave's old pal Regis Philbin. On Friday, Sandra Bullock stops by. Conan counters tonight with Dane Cook, although we're most looking forward to Thursday, when the ever-hilarious Norm MacDonald will be on.

Jay Leno: Miss him? You'll be seeing more of him soon

NBC wants to remind you: Jay Leno is coming back this fall. Variety reports that if you are watching the network at 10 PM, you'll see a promo for the former "Tonight Show" host's forthcoming comedy show.

One spot is a 30-second sketch in which a network exec pitches ideas to promote the fall show, including a Leno superhero action figure. However, the spots will get longer and more elaborate later this month: NBC has "hired one of Leno's writers to come up with gags for minutelong monologues that will start appearing as soon as the end of this month." He may even do some of his signature bits, like Headlines, in some of the promos.

"Jay's used to working, so he's happy to oblige," NBC Universal TV Group chief marketing officer John Miller told Variety. "We're trying to shoot things almost on a weekly basis all summer long. Creatively, our goal is simple: to establish the notion that it's going to be Jay, it's going to be comedy, on the air at 10 p.m. this fall.

"From the moment he left 'The Tonight Show' until the moment his new show starts, there won't be a day where Jay doesn't appear on NBC," promised Miller. "We want to create a 10 o'clock habit."

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Letterman deal: More years for Craig Ferguson, too?

The New York Times just posted a comprehensive article about David Letterman's new deal with CBS, noting that one thing the new contract does not include is "any specific stipulation that this will definitely be Mr. Letterman’s last run in late night." Unlike NBC, which couldn't wait to show Jay Leno the door, CBS seems content to keep the perennially second-place finisher on the air. However, the article notes that unlike Dave's previous contracts, this one is only two years instead of three.

And here's some good news for fans of that guy who follows Dave at 12:35. "[Letterman's production company] Worldwide Pants also owns... 'The Late Late Show.' The current star of that show, Craig Ferguson, is under contract through 2010. The company definitely wants Mr. Ferguson, whose reputation has grown in recent years, to continue."

Jay Leno: Advertisers balk at paying prime time prices for late night ratings

AdAge.com is reporting that advertisers are skeptical of "The Jay Leno Show," the former "Tonight" host's forthcoming 10 PM broadcast. Media buyers are "balking at paying prime-time prices for what they view as late-night ratings," says AdAge, which quotes an exec as stating that Leno "will guarantee NBC a third-place finish [behind ABC and CBS] in whatever hour he's in. He will do on par with what he did in late night."

NBC is counting on the Leno show's dirt-cheap production costs compared with even the lowest-budgeted 10 PM drama. They also tout the host's willingness to do live ads as another advertiser-friendly feature, and claim the comedian's topical humor makes the show "DVR-proof," meaning that audiences are less likely to watch it days later, when they can fast-forward through the commercials.

Meanwhile, Deadline Hollywood blogger Nikki Finke reported that booking wars between Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien are "already getting ugly," and that NBC execs have "demanded that Leno back off booking A-list celebrities because it would encroach on O'Brien's turf... [The] bosses are putting Leno under pressure to think outside the box and help come up with a format significantly different from the one he’s slavishly followed for 17 years." NBC prez Jeff Zucker's response? "No. Please. There's no truth to that."

David Letterman: Three more years?

The Live Feed blog reports that CBS is working on a deal that would keep David Letterman on the air through 2012. (His current contract expires next year.)

With the recession hurting TV ad revenues, CBS has managed to get a lower license fee to keep Dave on at 11:30: "Previous agreements gave the host a salary of around $30 million per year. It's not clear if the fee cutback impacts Letterman's salary, or just production costs."

Considering the new competition at 11:35, Letterman is probably eager to go up against a new rival, and perhaps end his TV career as the late night ratings leader.

David Letterman: Howard Stern boosts ratings

So did Howard Stern's much-touted appearance benefit David Letterman's ratings last night? You bet -- according to TV By the Numbers, "only a tenth of a ratings point separated 'The Late Show' (3.0) from 'The Tonight Show' (3.1)." That 3.1 is lower than any of Conan O'Brien's "Tonight" premiere week ratings.

Letterman has another powerhouse guest tonight: Julia Roberts, whose appearance was promoted during last night's show. Her chemistry with Dave is legendary, and there will probably be a large tune-in just to see what happens. Conan's main guest is no slouch either -- Eddie Murphy, who rarely appears on late night talk shows.

Howard Stern on "Letterman": "I can't stand Jay"

Howard Stern appeared on "Late Show with David Letterman" Monday night -- his first appearance on the broadcast since Jan. 10, 2008, and his 19th sit-down on "Late Show" -- in an attempt to "beat this Conan." Here's his conversation with Dave:

Howard: I haven't been here in a long time. It feels like a lot of pressure to me, especially tonight, in light of what's going on in late night television. I'm not going to pretend like I don't know what's going on. This Conan O'Brien took over the Leno show. You heard about this.

Dave: Yes I did. I got a wire.

Howard: I'm backstage with your staff, and your staff says to me, "This is a big night, this is the night we think we're going to beat 'The Tonight Show,' and there's a lot of pressure." Nobody talks to you about this stuff, they talk to me. I'm sitting back there, my hands are shaking.

After a brief conversation about how Bruno's stunt on last week's MTV Awards, and how it was a rip-off of Howard's notorious Fartman appearance, Stern continued to discuss the late-night wars.

Howard: We've got to beat this Conan. I mean, for God's sake, how are you feeling that Jay left late night television and now we've got a new guy we've got to compete with? I want to say something to this audience about loyalty. Dave put me on national television many years ago, before I was known, and I have stuck with Dave. I didn't like Jay, I never liked Jay, I can't stand Jay. I've never seen anybody who behaves like a robot like this guy. I watched his final show, he says goodbye to 'The Tonight Show,' he's reading it off a teleprompter for crying out loud. Where's the emotion, where's the humanity? Here's the host that we want to watch.

Dave: Thank you, Howard. I appreciate that.

Howard: I went on this guy's show one time.

Dave: Who are we talking about now?

Howard: Jay Leno. I bring out two lesbians, right. I'm Howard Stern, I bring out two lesbians. He's shocked. He walked off his own show. I knew it wouldn't last. I had a feeling.

After some photos of his celebrity-studded wedding were shown, Stern chatted to Letterman about radio, which he called "a disgusting business." He described Rush Limbaugh as a "big blowhard fatso" who "gets on the air and says he wishes Obama ill. What kind of big bloated turd is this?"

Video of Stern's appearance can be found on the "Late Show" web site.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Stephen Colbert: Iraq show spoilers

First, non-spoilery: Stephen Colbert, who is bringing his "Colbert Report" to Camp Victory in Baghdad, Iraq, this week, has guest edited the June 15 issue of Newsweek (which goes on sale today) to bring some additional focus to the troops fighting in the Middle East. Here is his editor's note, and you can read the cover story, by frequent "Daily Show" and "Colbert Report" guest Fareed Zakaria, here.

OK, now for the spoilers. The cover of the magazine depicts a grimacing Stephen getting the side of his head shaved so that his remaining hair spells out the word IRAQ. Obviously it was a Photoshop trick, but Stephen did indeed have a date with the clippers. According to this AP report, Colbert's guest, Gen. Ray Odierno, "accepted a videotaped order from President Barack Obama to shave Colbert's head." Oh, thank goodness President Obama got involved. We would hate for an entire week to go by without another late night talk show appearance by the Commander-in-Chief.

Sen. John McCain also made "a surprise appearance in a videoclip in which he thanked the troops for their service and reminded them to clean their muskets."

The show will also feature a pretaped comedy bit showing Colbert "arriving at Fort Jackson, S.C., in a stretch limousine for 'the full 10 hours' of basic training, which included him struggling to do push-ups and sit-ups."

Colbert will broadcast all four of this week's shows from Iraq. It is the first time a non-news program has been produced, taped and transmitted from a combat zone.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Conan O'Brien: Ratings slip during premiere week

James Hibberd at the Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed blog has taken a look at Conan O'Brien's first-week numbers, and he's reporting that O'Brien pulled in fewer viewers as the week wore on:

O'Brien's "Tonight" premiere garnered a massive 7.1 overnight metered-market household rating, then dropped 30% on Tuesday (5.0), slipped 14% on Wednesday (4.3), went down 12% on Thursday (3.8) and fell 8% on Friday (3.5).
Hibberd reports that last night was the lowest-rated Friday episode of "Tonight" in six months. (Maybe Jay Leno's older viewers were more likely to be home at 11:30 on a Friday night, while O'Brien's fans were out seeing "The Hangover"?) However, Hibberd notes that Conan's competitors "were likewise down by a similar percentage when comparing Thursday to Friday."

Overall, "Tonight" bested "Late Show with David Letterman" by a 62% margin during its debut week. "The gap between O'Brien and Letterman narrowed nearly each night, however, with the CBS program pulling a 2.7 on Friday."

Talk Show News is really curious what will happen on Monday, when O'Brien faces some stiff competition: namely, Howard Stern on"Letterman" and "The Colbert Report"'s Stephen Colbert kicking off a week of shows from Baghdad, Iraq. Conan's guests, actors David Duchovny and Anna Friel and stand-up comic Bill Burr, don't have the star power to give the show a significant bump, so presumably the majority of the tune-in will be O'Brien's diehard fans. Of course, late night ratings are a marathon, not a sprint, but it's interesting how many people credit Jay Leno's rise to time slot dominance to one night with one guest: Hugh Grant.

Jacksonville.com writer Laura Capitano, who is not a regular viewer of either Letterman or O'Brien, watched the shows last week and commented on "how interchangeable the programs are." Indeed, O'Brien's Friday "Celebrity Survey" bit was not too far removed from Letterman comedy segments, and many of Conan's monologue jokes are fairly similar to Leno's; we could definitely picture Jay delivering this one, for instance: "North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il is in the process of deciding who's going to be his successor, and the most likely person is his youngest son, Kim Jong-Un. Kim Jong-Un said he's excited, but realizes he's got some awfully big women's sunglasses to fill." Or this one: "Yesterday, Dick Cheney said his lesbian daughter Mary has convinced him to support gay marriage. Pretty cool, yeah. Cheney made the announcement after Mary was spotted waterboarding him."

We'd be interested to hear from any regular Leno fans who gave Conan a try this week. Are you reassured -- or counting the days 'til September?

Conan O'Brien: "Super Mario" fan?

We got an email a couple days ago about that Serious Lunch post that was making the rounds, the one in which Conan O'Brien's new monologue backdrop was compared to the background of Super Mario Bros. Well, news of the coincidence (or was it?) reached Team O'Brien, which addressed it on-air:

Kotaku.com got a quote from Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime, who said, "We know that he is a fan of what we do, and we're thrilled to have him as a passionate Nintendo fan. Maybe we'll have to go play some Wii Sports Resort as well as Super Mario Bros Wii."

The Live Feed, however, notes that the Serious Lunch illustration was not a direct screen shot from Super Mario, but a Photoshop effect by blogger Tim Bierbaum based on the game design. "It's pretty funny," Bierbaum told The Live Feed, adding, "I'm glad it's inspired some discussion."

Jimmy Fallon: Bringing exposure to Bing

NBC has announced that it will be partnering with Microsoft to launch its new search engine, Bing, and part of the roll-out will involve spots on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon."

"NBC is committed to working with advertisers to find creative ways to entertain our audiences and offer our clients value at the same time," said Ben Silverman, Co-Chairman of NBC Entertainment. "By partnering with Microsoft to promote Bing, we have a unique opportunity to give our audiences an enhanced viewing experience at the same time that we offer increased exposure for the Microsoft brand."

Fallon's audience members will reportedly play a game that revolves around using Bing. The search engine -- oops, "decision engine" -- will also be featured on the NBC drama "The Philanthropist." "The series, which features a globe-trotting, risk-taking adventurer billionaire, will make special use of Bing's trip planning tools and map features," according to a press release.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Stephen Colbert to broadcast from Iraq next week

David Letterman and Howard Stern, you've got competition. Monday night at 11:30, Stephen Colbert will bring his special brand of wit to the troops in Iraq, finally answering the question he's been asking on his show for the past several weeks: "Where in the world and when in time is Stephen Colbert going to be in the Persian Gulf?"

According to this AP report, Colbert arrived at the former Al Faw Palace at Camp Victory in Baghdad earlier today. "The series of shows, each to be taped in front of an audience of about 450 troops, have been dubbed 'Operation Iraqi Stephen: Going Commando.' It's the first time anyone has broadcast from Iraq for a USO tour."

Along with comedy bits, Stephen will feature interviews with Gen. Raymond Odierno, the current commander of the forces in Iraq, and Barham Saleh, the deputy prime minister of Iraq.

The shows' theme will be the declining attention paid to the war in Iraq. Colbert says he was spurred to make the trip when he noticed economic news coverage eclipsing reports from Baghdad.

Colbert said he feels a "special guilt" and responsibility to keep the soldiers' story alive because of the political nature of his program. The comedian is also guest editing next week's issue of Newsweek magazine. (A mock-up sits on his desk with the question "Remember Iraq?" splashed across the cover.)

"I don't want to forget that people are struggling through the things that I sometimes make jokes about," he said.

The 45-year-old comedian says he's not afraid of the danger of visiting Iraq ("I'm not a high value target"). Instead, he said he's only nervous about doing a good show for the troops.

"The show is always about me, it's always about the character," said Colbert. "What's different about this is, it's really about them. If they laugh, I'll be completely satisfied."

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Howard Stern on "Letterman": Plugging, too

It's been pointed out to Talk Show News since we posted this morning's announcement of Howard Stern appearing on "Late Show with David Letterman" on Monday, June 8 that Stern isn't just going on the show to boost his old buddy Dave's ratings. Stern will likely be talking about the new Sirius iPhone app, which will allow iPhone users to stream Sirius content (for a monthly fee, of course -- $12.95).

According to a report from Business Insider, people who are already in-car subscribers can use the app for an additional $3/month "streaming" fee.

Howard Stern will be a guest on "Late Show with David Letterman" June 8

It's likely that David Letterman's ratings will get a bump this coming Monday, the beginning of his second week facing off against "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien." A source tells us that Howard Stern will be a guest on the program that night. "Howard Stern hasn't done a late night show since 2007," says the source. "Letterman's booker asks for him all the time but he almost always declines. Monday's booking is clearly a favor to an old friend in an attempt to give Letterman a ratings surge as Conan's 'newness' wears off and his guests aren't as top notch. However, Howard did say that this is in no way a 'Fuck You' to Conan. He likes Conan and wishes him well.... especially because Howard hates Leno. Howard has said that he will once again do The Tonight Show since it is no longer hosted by a 'Shithead.'"

In the past, Stern has accused Leno of stealing one of his bits to create "Jaywalking." (Leno also lured away former Stern player "Stuttering John" Melendez, who became just plain John Melendez when he took over announcing duties on Leno's "Tonight.")

Conan's guests on Monday will be David Duchovny and Anna Friel.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Conan O'Brien: Obama, Tom Hanks enliven second night

Sure, everyone reviewed night one of Conan O'Brien's "Tonight Show" gig, but a few TV writers actually decided to weigh in on Night 2 as well. Courant.com's Roger Catlin, who gave a qualified thumbs-up to Night 1, said Conan's second show was "a little more relaxed than the first... He had time to do a monologue that touched lightly on issues and was hit or miss in the manner of these late night things." As for musical guest Green Day, Catlin remarked that "it was the second night in a row of rock that first emerged in the 90s. Someday he'll move back into the 21st century." Ouch! Afraid Conesy doesn't have a lot of cutting edge musical guests scheduled, but hey, Spinal Tap will be performing on the 15th. (Speaking of Green Day, they will be making four appearances on "Last Call with Carson Daly" next week.)

Alan Sepinwall of the New Jersey Star-Ledger wrote that "night two was Conan firing on all thrusters... I don't know that anything in episode two will change the minds of the Jay loyalists who e-mailed me yesterday to complain that Conan was, quote, 'Unbelievably childish.' (Because, of course, nothing says sophisticated and mature comedy like Jaywalking or the Dancing Itos.) But for the Conan fans, and those still on the fence, this felt much more akin to what the guy looks like at the top of his game."

Newsday.com's Verne Gay was also a fan: "Last night, the second night of the rest of Conan O'Brien's professional life, was much better, and in one or two instances, inspired... Tom Hanks is always a fine guest, and a good sport too."

And then there was President Obama, who seems to have an inexplicable willingness to plug talk shows (I mean, the man gave a shout-out to George Lopez):

I'm surprised the prez didn't record a bit for Chelsea Handler when she shifted from 11:30 PM to 11 a few weeks back. "Chelsea in an earlier time slot? That's change we can all believe in!"

Craig Kilborn: Back on Comedy Central?

Update: Breaking news! Craig has a new show in the works. (posted May 5, 2010)

Ever since this blog was born, Talk Show News has wanted to write about Craig Kilborn. What the heck happened to the guy? He seems to have disappeared off the face of the earth since giving up "The Late Late Show" in 2004. A check of his IMDB profile shows no credits after 2007, and that was for a supporting role in a straight-to-DVD teen comedy called "Full of It."

All efforts to track down Kilby's whereabouts were unsuccessful, though, so there was no point in writing a post. Until today. Now, please note that this is just the merest wisp of news. Still, it's something.

In the inbox this morning was a request from Comedy Central to take a short survey about its programming. After clicking through, there were a bunch of questions about "Krod Mandoon" (nope, haven't watched, don't plan to). And then, finally, came this:

One last thing, could you see Craig Kilborn back on Comedy Central, or is it the worst idea since Kate talked Jon into unprotected sex?
Please select one response only.

That's a great idea, he's awesome!
I don't care, as long as the show's funny.
If Craig's in it, the show would have to be especially funny for me to watch.
No way, he sucks!
I've never heard of Craig Kilborn.

So somebody at Comedy Central is obviously thinking about bringing former "Daily Show" host Kilby back into the fold. Further updates if we get 'em. Meanwhile, if anybody knows anything, please post a comment or e-mail talk (at) interbridge.com.

Follow-up, posted Sept. 29, 2009: Sorry, it looks like Craig has retired.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Jimmy Kimmel: Game Night guests and comedy

Here's the schedule so far for the "Jimmy Kimmel Live" Game Night specials. They will air before the NBA game in Eastern and Central time zones from 8:00-8:31 PM ET, and after the NBA game in Mountain and Pacific time zones.

June 4:

1. Will Ferrell 2. Grammy Award winner Eminem teaches Jimmy to rap

June 7:

1. Actor Denzel Washington 2. “The Teammating Game” comedy segment with NBA players Dahntay Jones and Chris “Birdman” Andersen (Denver Nuggets) versus Amar’e Stoudemire and Grant Hill (Phoenix Suns)

June 9:

Guests TBA

June 11:

1. Jack Black and Michael Cera

June 14 (if necessary):

Guests TBA

Jay Leno: Premiere date for 10 PM show set

Disappointed by Conan O'Brien taking over "The Tonight Show"? A lot of Jay Leno fans may just never be able to warm up to Conesy. And now they can circle this date on their calendars: Sept. 14. That's the day when "The Jay Leno Show" will debut at 10 PM on NBC.

Says NBC's press release: "'The Jay Leno Show' will be the first-ever entertainment program to be stripped across primetime on broadcast network television and will showcase many of the features that have made Leno America’s late-night leader for more than a dozen years."

Just 104 days, 10 hours and 34 minutes to go.

Conan O'Brien: But what did the fans think?

We've told you what some of the nation's TV writers thought about Conan's "Tonight Show" debut, but what about the people who will be watching night after night?

Here's a handful of reactions from the message boards at Television Without Pity and EW.com:

"I hate the new studio. It seems too big and cold."

"Color me very very pleased with Conan's first show. It revisited enough of the old Conan while still showing us that this is a different show and a new beginning."

"Conan will do fine, but I don't think I'll be choosing him over Dave anytime soon. For now, I'm just glad that Dave's rival is someone that I don't despise."

"Conan is obviously not to everyone's taste; he certainly isn't mine. I watched about 20 minutes -- left before Will Ferrell appeared. The opening was clever; I watched to see if there was a glimmer of likeability on my part. Not. Of course, that's why they make chocolate AND vanilla ice cream. I'll take my chances with Leno in the fall."

"I am not understanding the appeal of Andy Richter at all. He does not seem the least bit funny to me."

"The addition of Andy Richter is genius! That choco-taco banter was funny and seemed to relax Conan's nervous energy. I'll watch again for sure."

"Conan stayed true to form, but for the 'Tonight Show' slot I think he's going to have to have a stronger monologue and concentrate on just being funny."

"The Tonight Show is effectively gone. This was Late Night with Conan O'Brien with more money and a bigger studio. Despite the time and effort that went into the taped pieces (the tram piece should have been better), after 17 years Conan is still so unconfident as a performer that he has to resort to jumping around and wildly mugging at every opportunity. Lack of confidence (real or put on) can work at 12:30 (Jimmy Fallon and Craig Ferguson both hit and miss), but it's deadly at 11:30."

"I grew up on the Tonight Show from the Jack Paar days as I first remember. Of course no one will ever replace JC. Leno grew on me. I did not like him at first. But I have to say based on opening night, I will get more sleep from now on. I won't make it a habit to wait up to see the show. I thought it was extremely poor and boring. Maybe I am just too old to get into Conan."

"I thought last night's show was awesome! Conan was hilarious and I loved the Universal Studios skit. I'm so happy he's back. My mind is honestly blown at how people can think Jay Leno is funnier than Conan...Really??"

Craig Ferguson to Jimmy Fallon: I challenge you to naked on-air wrestling!

We mentioned last night that David Letterman had a few words to say about Conan O'Brien's debut. Well, if you stuck around after Dave to watch Craig Ferguson, turns out he wanted to share some thoughts on the late night race as well.

After stating that he'd watched both Dave and Conan at 11:30 -- "I was trained in the art of double watching" -- Ferguson remarked that "Dave was his usual brilliant self, and Conan did fantastically well. It used to be me against Conan every night. It was like we would strip naked and wrestle. Some nights I lost and some nights I won. It doesn't matter anymore. He's on early. He's become one of them."

Then Craig addressed his time slot rival, Jimmy Fallon. "There's only two late night outlaws now -- me and the Fallon boy. And I tell you -- I thought that boy was going to go down, but he ain't going down. Not yet. I'm thinking, lie down, Jimmy, or you're going to get hurt. But he keeps getting up, I keep smacking him down. So I would hereby like to challenge Jimmy Fallon to naked on-air wrestling."

This week should be especially challenging for the Scot, considering that Fallon will be getting a massive lead-in from people curious about how Conan will play on "The Tonight Show." Last night, Conan scored a 7.1 rating in the overnights (measuring the country's largest media markets), meaning that more viewers were watching the redhead than David Letterman and "Nightline" combined. (By comparison, Jay Leno's final show on Friday drew an 8.8 rating.)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Conan O'Brien: Comments on his debut from Letterman, TV critics

David Letterman had a few gags about tonight's premiere of "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien," according to the New York Times' Bill Carter:

Having just returned from a vacation week, Mr. Letterman opened with some observations about the news from NBC. “I’m still here,” Mr. Letterman told his audience. “I knocked off another competitor.”

Mr. Letterman said his mother had called him to say, “Well David, I see you didn’t get the ‘Tonight’ show again.” And when he said he told his Mom that he had Bill Cosby as his guest, his mother said: “OK, maybe I’ll switch from Conan.”
So what did the critics think? The show hasn't aired yet on the West Coast, but a few TV writers have already weighed in with their reactions.

USA Today's Robert Bianco called Conan's first "Tonight" "a bit more frantic than the O'Brien norm, which is what you'd expect from a high-profile debut. Even so, if you like what he does — and I do — odds are you'll be happy for the chance to see him do it an hour earlier," adding that the broadcast "wasn't O'Brien at his funniest, but it was funny enough to get by."

The Edmonton Sun's Bill Harris
gave thumbs down to announcer Andy Richter, saying and former O'Brien sidekick's "fake laughter was a real distraction during O'Brien's monologue, so hopefully Richter will tone down his forced ha-ha's, or at least learn to shut the hell up if he isn't laughing for real."

Time's James Poniewozik said O'Brien's first monologue was "sharp if not gut-busting," calling the show "a funny hour overall." Poniewozik believes O'Brien will keep his old fans, but has little hope of winning over the Leno diehards. "The Conan we saw on stage last night knows that he's the big man at the big desk, leading the big show. But he also seems to know that staying there will mean staying true to the oddball comedy writer who ambled onto NBC 16 years ago."

The Baltimore Sun's David Zurawik had one of the more negative reactions: the premiere was "a good one -- if you like canned video clips rather than topical humor. Otherwise, there wasn't much to get excited about." His Universal Studios tour bit "seemed mostly silly -- and went on forever." "My guess as to why he went with canned videos rather than a monologue is because the pre-produced tape is far safer," wrote Zurawik. "But a host who launches his new career by opting for the safe, is not someone I'm going to praise."

The Hollywood Reporter's Randee Dawn also remarked on the plethora of taped pieces, calling the show "a debut episode designed for those with ADD." Unabashed Conan fan Nathan Rabin of the Onion's AV Club said the premiere was "comfort food for Late Night fans jonesing hardcore for Conesy and his vaguely obsessive-compulsive tics and mannerisms... In his very first outing, Conan struck a nice balance between appeasing old fans like myself and courting new ones."

Conan O'Brien: First show spoilers

We looked, we really did, but even though the first "Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien" wrapped over an hour ago, we haven't been able to find much info about it -- not even which song Pearl Jam played. Unlike Friday's farewell to Jay Leno, the media were not invited in. So you'll just have to tune in at 11:35 to see what happens. Sorry, spoiler fans! (If you're on the West Coast and can't wait, Canada's National Post will be liveblogging it.)

All we were able to dig up were a handful of monologue jokes, posted by Newsday.com, including this very topical gag:

"Well, I’ve timed this moment perfectly. I'm on a last place network, I moved to a state that's bankrupt, and tonight’s show is sponsored by General Motors."