EXCLUSIVE: Craig Ferguson Talks Conan/Leno Situation
You'd have to either have been living under a rock or on another planet for the last few weeks not to know what is going on at NBC in late night programming right now. After only four months NBC is pulling the plug on their prime-time experiment, The Jay Leno Show, which clearly failed. Their plan is to move Leno to 11:35PM and have Conan O'Brien do his The Tonight Show at 12:05AM, which many have noted at that time by definition ceases being The Tonight Show and becomes "The Tomorrow Show." O'Brien, understandably, is refusing to follow Leno stating that it is in his contract that he is the host of The Tonight Show a program that has aired before midnight for the last fifty-five years.
In 2004 O'Brien signed a deal with NBC to get The Tonight Show in 2009, after Leno retired. At the time O'Brien's contract was up and the network was afraid that he would go somewhere else, which is why they made the deal. However when the time came, Leno realized that he wasn't ready for retirement and since NBC didn't want him going to another network either, they gave him a prime-time show. But with the ratings as bad as they could possibly be, a new parent company in Comcast, advertisers pulling their adds and affiliates dropping the show, NBC had no choice but to cancel The Jay Leno Show causing the ultimate dilemma for the Peacock Company, how to please Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien at the same time and keep them both?
One man in late night who isn't in jeopardy of loosing his job is Craig Ferguson host of The Late Late Show on CBS. We had an opportunity to bump into the talented talk show host at an event yesterday for DreamWorks Animation. Ferguson lends his voice to their upcoming 3D animated film How To Train Your Dragon, based on the popular book. We took the chance to ask the Scottish-born comedian what he knows about what's happening over at NBC? "NBC don't even tell there own f***ing guys what's going on in late night, you think they're going to tell me?" joked Ferguson. However, he went on to say with all seriousness, "It's unfair." Ferguson's own boss, David Letterman host of "The Late Show" on CBS, had a similar problem as O'Brien in 1993 when Johnny Carson retired from The Tonight Show and NBC had to choose between Letterman and Leno. Ironically, O'Brien replaced Letterman at NBC. Although Ferguson was reluctant to say much more on the subject he did leave us with this final thought. "I think the fact that Conan has been treated shabbily is without debate."