Student sticks with Coco after Tonight Show departure

Jordan Grabow

Jordan Grabow

Six years ago, when it was announced Conan O’Brien would take over for Jay Leno on “The Tonight Show,” I could not have been happier. I was an avid watcher of “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” and never really did like Jay Leno. “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” was, in my opinion, the best late night television show of its time. The show featured edgy comedy that was both ridiculous and funny and kept me entertained for the whole hour, something Jay Leno’s show did not do.

The summer of 2009 marked the beginning of a new era for “The Tonight Show” as O’Brien took over and Leno said goodbye. After waiting five years, I was excited to see Conan on “The Tonight Show” and I had reason to be-O’Brien’s “Tonight Show” featured edgier comedy than Leno’s show but also kept the classy “Tonight Show” look and feel. Later in the year, Leno was given a whole new show in a primetime timeslot, featuring many of the segments that were popular on his old show. When Leno’s new show appeared, I was confused. I wondered why NBC would take Leno off “The Tonight Show” and basically give him the same show earlier.

Television networks are in a constant battle for the highest rankings, and that is what this change was about. NBC thought if they took a very popular late night television host and moved him to “The Tonight Show” and took the unbelievably popular “Tonight Show” host and moved him into primetime that they would have a ratings juggernaut. Much to NBC’s dismay, they were wrong and both shows’ ratings were not favorable. If only they would have just kept the hosts where they were. What was wrong with that?

In January, NBC decided to move Leno’s new show, “The Jay Leno Show,” to 10:35 p.m. and move “The Tonight Show” to 11:35 p.m. Not long after NBC’s decision, O’Brien decided that instead of switching timeslots he would leave the show and the network. I, along with thousands of supporters, began to show support for O’Brien and our disappointment in NBC. Along with support for O’Brien, many people blamed the situation on Leno, but in reality it is not his fault. It was NBC’s decision and supposedly Leno had no say, but personally I find that hard to believe. Leno has been with NBC for more than 20 years, and I don’t think it was easy for him to give up a job that he had for so long.

Just days ago, O’Brien and NBC reached a settlement in which the network will pay him $45 million and he cannot have a new show until September. On O’Brien’s final episode as host of “The Tonight Show,” he told viewers not to be cynics. I find it hard not to be cynical toward NBC after this decision. NBC told O’Brien that he would become the host of “The Tonight Show” in five years, and after seven months they bailed on him along with his staff. I know it’s all about ratings, but O’Brien has a large fan base, and he will always have my support no matter where he goes from here. Viva la Conan!