Apr
23
2008

  It's NBC, not the Genre

Last week, Conan O'Brien was complaining about how he was tired interviewing celebrities. He complained how they were only interested in promoting their latest project, and he never got to really know them. It was a rerun we had already seen, so Terry and I had no patience for Conan's whining and changed the channel to Craig Ferguson.

We saw Craig having a completely self-indulgent conversation with Julie Andrews about vaudville in England in the middle ages, or whenever she was twelve and performing with her parents. They were exclaiming about their experiences with people whose names I'm sure no more than 2% of their American viewing audience had even a clue about. And both Craig and Julie seemed to be having a great time.

I just watched David Letterman with some baseball announcer. They started talking about the live announcers for some Indiana (? I forget) baseball team from the 1940s. Again, perhaps interesting for old folks, but how many of them are watching Letterman at this hour? Again, another self-indulgent interview where both people involved seemed to be having a great time.

So Conan, it's not that you have to be bored with your interviews because you're a late-night talk show host, it's because your show is on a network that actually cares about their audience. They don't care if their hosts are bored to tears, eliciting amusing anecdotes from celebrities that are completely rehearsed as long as it's entertaining for the audience. If Conan wants to have "interesting" conversations with celebrities he should think about pitching his show to CBS rather than pursuing Leno's job. Since Leno also has the whole network-enforced pandering thing going on. That's what makes me think the network is the problem. Since both NBC hosts try to elicit stories to entertain the audience rather than the host. And neither CBS hosts make the least effort.

On one hand, I think Conan's very funny. On the other hand, I'm also bored of his celebrity interviews. His boredom shows. So I'm happy to have switched over to Craig. He's not as intrinsically funny as Conan, but he's sexy, and he seems to like his job. I hope Conan will be reinvigorated once he moves to LA, but who knows.