Thursday, January 28, 2010

Team Conan, Team Jay and the Age Divide

God willing, one day I'll be 60 years old. If I'm still a journalist and good at my job, why should I sit down because of my age? Why retire if I continue to get awards or break big stories? So many people are mad at Jay Leno, 59, and saying he's old and should pass the mic to Conan O'Brien. But Carson hosted the Tonight Show for 30 years. I remember when Carson stepped down, people thought he still had a few years in him. I've also read people comment on blogs that Jay is wrong for taking over the Tonight Show again due to Conan's low ratings. But, let's backtrack. If you watched Jay, he complained in his Tonight Show monologue for years about being #1 in late night and getting the boot from NBC. It didn't sound like he left willfully. And I question, did Conan feel funny about unseating Jay Leno? Maybe he did at first but let's keep it real. Conan packed his family, staff and headed to LaLa Land. What's the difference between him taking the job and Jay taking the job back? I don't dismiss Conan for pursuing an opportunity few comics will ever experience. It's show business, with the emphasis on business. NBC reportedly handed Conan to the Tonight Show throne because execs wanted to lock in a younger audience and keep Conan in the NBC family. Good idea, but a major fail. You know why Jay was still on top of his game on the Tonight Show? The Baby Boomers. NBC made the mistake of neglecting the Baby Boomers and concentrating on Gens X and Y when they promoted Conan. The Baby Boomers like Jay Leno and still watch TV. And HELLO, a lot of them living. Many people my parents age grew up on Johnnie Carson and like Jay Leno's corny jokes. Which is why Letterman ratings shot up once Leno took a 10pm time slot. I don't think a lot of them get Conan's humor. By the way, NBC is also making a big mistake of not giving Conan a chance to boost his ratings.

There's no point being mad at either Jay or Conan because they're making tens of millions of dollars a year for being funny. Shows you how much we appreciate school teachers and police officers doesn't it? I'm more concerned about the everyday people who get laid off from their jobs because of the economy, discrimination and outsourcing. Jay and Conan are going to be alright. But the average Joes, Juans and Kieshas of the country are in trouble. I'm talking about those who worked 40 years for a company and were cut because it's cheaper to replace them with a 21-year-old or a machine. They might not be alright after finding a pink slip in their mailbox. And speaking of Juan and Keisha, a person of color nor a woman has yet to sit behind the Tonight Show desk.

I'm Team Leno and Team Conan. Both are funny. Both were screwed by the peacock. It sucks and it happens all of the time, especially in Hollywood. So Jay, Conan don't go into the new season with personal attacks against each other. NBC caused this drama. You learned a hard lesson preached in the streets everyday, "Don't hate the player. Hate the game."

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