Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Conan the Comedian

The upcoming issue of the New York Times Magazine will have a lengthy article about Conan O'brien and his move to The Tonight Show. It's an interesting piece, not only for the behind the scenes insights as to Conan's last show in New York, but also the whole world of late night TV and the attendant politics. It also relates just how close Conan was to cratering as a late night host back at the very beginning. He only really survived because Greg Kinnear didn't want the job and NBC couldn't find anybody else to replace him with.

That's underscored in the DVD commentary to an episode of The Simpsons that aired after he left the show to take on late night. In the episode, Bart becomes a media phenomenon for a catch phrase he utters after destroying a set during a broadcast of a Krusty the Clown show. As part of his media blitz, Bart goes on Conan's late night show, during which he tries to break out of his one-line shtick (Conan doesn't let him and then announces that "only I may dance"). In the commentary, they talk about the risk they took in putting Bart on Conan's show because they thought Conan would be off the air by the time the episode hit TV. Luckily, it all worked out.

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