Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Upside of Early to Bed

I am quite confident that those folks who earn their daily coin in the world of advertising and in television are thankful each and every day that their ability to earn what they earn is not entirely dependent on penetrating my super thick skull cap. Whether it is age, ignorance, ambivalence or a perfectly blended cocktail of all of the above I know not. I know simply that the more I see the more I come to comprehend the fact that the target audience and I bear no resemblance to one another.

Case in point is the apparent resurrection of Conan O'Brien. I must confess that I had completely forgotten that (a) he had hosted the Tonight Show on NBC; (b) he had been off of television for some period of time after losing the Tonight Show to (back to) Jay Leno; and (c) he has a profile that looks to humans the way Nevada appears from space to the astronauts until I saw promos on TBS a couple of weeks back for his late-night television show. I know from seeing those promos that the show airs at 11:00 p.m. Eastern time and I know from watching the Yankees on TBS during the recently-concluded baseball playoffs that TBS is either 245 or 247 on Direct TV. I know nothing else at all about his show. Well, I do know that unless the same team of wild horses I waited for in vain to drag me in front of my set to watch him on the Tonight Show finally appears I will watch the same number of these broadcasts as I did of those broadcasts. Without giving away the answer, think of a really, really, really small number. Now, divide it by 2. Again. If the number you came up with is something greater than zero, then you are wrong.

I am sure that he is a nice fellow - as I am reasonably confident that David Letterman, Jay Leno, George Lopez, Craig Ferguson, Jimmy Kimmel and whoever Jimmy Fallon is are all nice fellows also. I am an early-morning riser and while I watch none of their programs ever I am confident in reporting that none of them ever has aired something that dictated me staying up until past my bedtime to watch. And I am equally confident saying that none ever shall. Candidly, since Johnny Carson retired from the Tonight Show close to two decades ago, I have not watched any "late night television". Once upon a time, before there were 8,000,000 television networks/channels and every one of them had its own talk/entertainment programming, it probably made sense to have a broadcast network platform for a singer, actor, athlete to appear and promote his or her latest and greatest. Now? Not so much.

I have no idea how Leno does in the ratings vis-a-vis Letterman or how well or not Conan O'Brien does in comparison to either of them. I remain fascinated from afar at just how much mileage O'Brien appears to have been able to get out of the manner in which NBC "screwed" him. I vaguely recall reading somewhere that to go away, NBC had to pay O'Brien something in excess of $32 Million. No one has ever offered me $32 Million to do anything and even fewer people have ever offered me $32 Million to NOT do something. Please forgive me if I seem to be unable to generate actual, substantial empathy for Mr. O'Brien. But for $32 Million I would have been amenable to going away - even further away than TBS.

I doubt that the whole cadre of Chilean miners who spent more than two months trapped beneath ground would have earned 10% of that amount of money collectively for the rest of their lives for their work in the mine. Now of course that they have survived an incredible ordeal they have the chance to earn some righteous non-mine money. Given that they all were literally buried under ground whereas O'Brien was only figuratively so still makes it seem more than slightly unfair - at least from my perspective. Especially for the wannabe Romeo on the mining crew whose wife found out about his extra-marital hi jinks while he was trapped beneath the Earth's surface. Captain Smooth might be the only one out of that entire crew who is actually looking forward to the chance to to back in the mine. It is safer for him down there than it is up here.

If you are someone who mourned the absence of Conan O'Brien from your airwaves these past however many months he was off of them, then I hope his return is all that you had hoped it would be. If and when they start putting something worth watching back on TV late at night - such as repeats of Johnny Carson's Tonight Show, then feel free to wake me up to watch. Unless and until that happens, ask Conan and the rest of the boys to keep it down. Some of us are trying to sleep. We have to get up early for work.

-AK

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