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Monday, November 01, 2010

What Does Jay Have On You?

We are now just one week away from the premiere of “Conan” on TBS.

But before we get to Conan’s bright future, we have to take one last look at the fiasco that made all this possible.

Well, we don’t have to, but I’m certainly going to…

Thursday, a new book hits the shelves detailing the whole mess—“The War for Late Night: When Leno Went Early and Television Went Crazy.” It’s by Bill Carter, who wrote “The Late Shift,” which detailed the last NBC late night fiasco.

“Vanity Fair” released an excerpt on its website last week and it’s GOOD. Carter’s writing reads more like a novel than it does a retelling of events. But sadly, this isn’t fiction…

I am super psyched to read this book, but I’ve already learned five things from the excerpt:

1) Conan clearly had a bad contract negotiator
If Conan had inserted a clause that his show had to be on at 11:35 p.m.—as David Letterman did with his CBS contract—none of this might have ever happened.

2) NBC truly believed that Conan would just accept the move to 12:05 a.m.

3) NBC told Jimmy Fallon’s people of their plan before they told Conan.

4) Jeff Zucker’s a bigger idiot than I thought.
He was truly furious that Conan was thinking the 12:05 proposal over. He apparently didn’t see that it was a big deal.

And here’s the doozy…

5) Jay wanted to call Conan, but NBC Universal TV Chairman Jeff Gaspin told him not to.
If this is true—and I have no reason to believe it isn’t—why in heaven’s name didn’t Jay tell Oprah that? Was he afraid to throw NBC under the bus?

The other interesting tidbit from the excerpt is the question Conan repeatedly asked NBC execs—What does Jay have on you?

For the record, he never got his answer…

You can read the excerpt here. I’ll have much more after I get my hands on the book…

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