Late night talkers actually thrived during the strike

by Paul William Tenny

If there's one thing I learned from the writers' strike, it's that one of the following two things must be true -- either the majority of the late-night crowd wouldn't know real comedy if I rubbed their face in it then beat them with my belt, or people just don't watch late-night talk shows for anything other than the interviews.

I'm going with the latter.
Both Leno and Letterman gained viewers after returning from the pseudo-strike support, which isn't surprising at first glance because Letterman returned with his writing staff intact, and Jay Leno is a scab that wrote his own material the entire time, a blatantly selfish violation of the strike rules for which he really ought to be punished for.

I never did watch Leno since I was going to throw my support towards Letterman and the writers' cause, but was even less inclined to do so once Leno turned into a scab. I did have the displeasure of seeing Conan O'Brien a couple of times, and as painful as it was to watch him improv for ten minutes at the beginning of his show -- dancing on his desk and exploring the studio rafters with a hand-held camera as well as giving a hand-held tour of his office -- it's nice to know that he'll be taking over the Tonight Show next year (is it next year?) and someone who respects his people and his business will be occupying that job for the foreseeable future.

It doesn't matter if you think Leno is more funny, or a better interviewer -- when it mattered most, O'Brien held true to the cause and did his writers proud.

It's just a shame the networks weren't punished more in the ratings for their reprehensible behavior at the negotiating table. From what I gather, NBC hardly lost anyone (that was left in the first place) while Fox actually gained viewers. ABC and CBS suffered, but not nearly enough.

Not nearly.
in Television


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