Idol Chatter

While I certainly agree with many media pundits that NBC has made a series of blunders with the whole late night talk show mess execs have created, I can’t think of a better scenario than the current one to resurrect Conan’s flagging career. Whether or not NBC pays off O’Brien’s contract or not, and regardless of whether O’Brien goes to another network or not, people like me who haven’t watched O’Brien in years -even when he was on later at night- are rallying behind the comedian with the kind of outraged fervor I haven’t seen since Clay Aiken was runner-up on “American Idol.” Even celebs like Rosie O’ Donnell and – not surprisingly- David Letterman are picking sides in the late night scandal and it all adds up to a tarnished legacy for Leno while O’Brien comes off as a lovable underdog who was never given a fighting chance.
And what could be helping O’Brien in this media war most of all are social networking sites like Facebook.

Hopping on Facebook last night, I was amazed at how many of my friends had posted links to the latest Conan news. I also found petitions I could sign, groups I could join, all in support of O’Brien. It’s a virtual deluge – pun intended – wave of support for the red-headed talk show host that puts him in the driver’s seat as far as his next career move goes.
Leno , on the other hand, is not only getting roasted in the press but has a number of Facebook pages dedicated to wanting him fired or to retire.
As TV viewership dwindles, no one can deny the internet is driving the buzz and social networking sites are at the top of the list. That’s why this outpouring of support seems so signficant to me. I truly believe this internet backlash means Leno’s return to “The Tonight Show” time slot will not be as successful as NBC thinks and that O’Brien has a younger , more vibrant fan base – you know, the kind advertisers covet. I think this fan base is going to follow him if he goes to Fox or another network. I think those of us who lost interest in his style of banter will return to watching him on late night out of curiousity. Leno, on the other hand, will be left playing to, well, audience leftovers.
That’s something that having a show at ten o’clock on NBC has ,more than prepared him for.
The Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien

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