Five Equally Awkward Solutions To The Jay/Conan Dilemma
For NBC, Wednesday was a public relations nightmare the likes of which we rarely see, when Jeff Zucker, apparently in the throes of a bender following the threats of local affiliates displeased by The Jay Leno Show's crippling of their evening newscasts, drunkenly crashed his PeacockMobile onto the stage of a Tonight Show taping, mowing down anyone who cares at all about late-night comedy. The rumors flew fast and furious: Leno canceled! Leno sort of canceled, but moving back to 11:30! Conan thrown overboard! Conan not thrown overboard, but totally screwed by his desperate, flailing corporate bosses! Arsenio Hall at 12:37! And even though our preferred outcome -- mercy-killing Leno's 10 p.m. debacle, leaving Conan alone to do what they hired him to do, and then setting Jay adrift on a simulated ice-floe in the refrigerated waters of Las Vegas' new Arctic Magic Casino -- is increasingly unlikely now that the "Jay at 11:35, Conan at 12:05 plan" seems to be the one they're floating, we still can't help but think there are other equally awkward solutions to their predicament that NBC should consider in the name of due diligence. After the jump, our helpful suggestions!
Two Desks, One Stage
Desperate to hang on to both of the prime late-night assets it's loath to lose to competitors like ABC and Fox, NBC could simply remove the extra chairs from the Tonight Show stage and add another desk for Jay, sandwiching the guest between dueling hosts. While the arrangement might prove clumsy at first, with confused actors not knowing where to direct their amusing anecdotes, eventually a comfortable rhythm would be established, where guests could set up their stories to an engaged, warmly facilitating Conan, then turn to Jay to have their punchlines stepped on. Conan could then commiserate with the guests, in a winning, "You think that's bad? You should see how he can't help stomping all over my career!" kind of way.
As Leno's alleged strong suit has always been spooning a comforting current-events porridge into the mouths of an older-skewing audience as they nod off in front of their TVs, NBC could just give Tonight's monologue to Jay, who then could throw to Conan for sketches, remotes and guests. Sure, this seems like essentially the idea NBC wants to try in the 11:30 Jay/midnight Conan, but by abandoning the proposed charade and doing it all under the The Tonight Show Starring Conan O'Brien With Jay Leno brand they seem desperate to damage with their flip-flopping shenanigans, the always cost-conscious NBC could save the money they'd waste on an entire second production.
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