Now this is a White House press briefing we might tune in for. Conan O’Brien paid a visit to the West Wing today ahead of his hosting gig tomorrow at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Politico reports the TBS late-night host met with press secretary Jay Carney, …
Conan O’Brien Tweets Pic From DC For White House Correspondents’ Dinner; CNN Joins Others In Airing Event
Looks like Team Coco is in the house. Well, actually just near the house, but it is the White House we’re talking about. In the nation’s capital to host this year’s White House Correspondents Dinner, Conan O’Brien today tweeted a pic of himself in front of the Executive Mansion. “In D.C. to perform at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Practicing my opening “Goofy Sunglasses” bit,” the TBS late-night host wrote Thursday. Saturday’s dinner is the Boston native’s second stint as headliner. He also hosted in 1995, a couple of years after joining Late Night.
2ND UPDATE: Jay Leno, David Letterman, and Jimmy Fallon are in repeats tonight. But Conan O’Brien‘s show is original and Boston is his hometown so he comments on today’s bombings (below). So does Jimmy Kimmel (below). Also Craig Ferguson (video below) who notes during his cold open that, when he became an American citizen in 2008, he spoke at Faneuil Hall on July 4th at the invitation of Boston Mayor Tommy Menino:
CONAN O’BRIEN: We have a great show for you tonight. But first, I have to mention what an upsetting and sad day it’s been. Boston is my hometown – it’s where I grew up, and it’s where my family lives. So I just wanted to take a moment to say that – like everyone here – my thoughts and prayers are with the people of Boston and everyone who has been affected by this senseless act. That said — it is our job to do a show. We’re going to try and entertain you the best we can. Which, given our track record, gives you people a 20% chance of having a good time tonight.
JIMMY KIMMEL: Well – it was a terrible day. Very bad things happened today for no good reason – and our thoughts are with the people of Boston and everyone who is suffering as a result of the bombings at the marathon. It’s a disgusting thing. I don’t understand it. But my job is to make you laugh and so I will try to do that. And – I will probably fail. I’m failing already.
EXCLUSIVE: Books as source material for comedy series projects have been hot the last few development seasons. Now, with book publishing undergoing h a digital revolution, digital books are making the leap to television too.
ABC has put in development an untitled single-camera comedy based on the Kindle Single memoir Keep Swinging by Rick Marin. This is the first Kindle Single to be optioned by Hollywood since Amazon launched its service for short stories, long-form journalism and opinion pieces in January 2011.
Former Everybody Loves Raymond executive producer Lew Schneider will co-write the TV adaptation with Marin for Conan O’Brien’s Conaco Prods., which is producing with Warner Bros. TV. The comedy centers on an artsy dad with zero interest in sports who is thrown into a new family dynamic and social life as he and his wife face a challenge for which they are woefully ill-equipped: a jock kid. Marin, Schneider, O’Brien, David Kissinger and Jeff Ross are executive producing.
SATURDAY UPDATE: Jay Leno’s spokesman has now issued this statement: ”Jay’s foremost concern is for the wonderful people who work for The Tonight Show. He did what was necessary to ensure their well-being.”
BREAKING… EXCLUSIVE… FRIDAY 8:30 PM: NBC insiders tell me The Tonight Show went through ”downsizing” today and that 20 staffers lost their jobs. Others tell me the number is more like 25, and producers were forced to take pay cuts or lose their jobs. I’ve also learned that Jay Leno took what is being described as a “tremendous” pay cut to “save as many people’s jobs as he could”. Leno’s Tonight Show is consistently the #1 late night talk show in both households and demographics, except for some anomalies when Leno does get beaten. And that’s despite the fact that the network’s primetime ratings have been dismal for many years or that Leno himself was harshly criticized by the media for that January 2010 standoff with Conan O’Brien. Even so, The Tonight Show has been and still is a cash cow for NBC. So what happened to merit the downsizing? “I don’t think ad sales are off. I just think the people who bought this company, Comcast, wants to go through everything at NBC and get their money back,” an NBC insider tells me. ”It’s hard to go through those kinds of cuts. It’s more a network issue than a late-night issue. And I would say that Jay doesn’t get credit for digging out of a gigantic hole every single night. He’s a very valuable guy to NBC and someday everyone will understand that. He does a great job.”
The downsizing also comes just 5 days after First Lady Michelle Obama appeared as a guest for the third time on The Tonight Show: high unemployment, job creation, and taxing the rich vs the poor all are issues in the 2012 president campaign. Leno has said publicly that he’s able to bank his entire Tonight Show salary and live on the hefty fees he makes from his hectic personal appearance schedule. Leno’s new salary is reportedly $27M-$30 million a year. He reportedly brings home another $15M-$20M a year from his other gigs.
The comic’s become a cable industry icon since he moved from NBC to TBS, and he assured execs this morning that they have nothing to fear as new technologies and social media change the rules of engagement with TV viewers. “I was forced to embrace this world” after he lost his Tonight Show gig in 2010, he said this morning at The Cable Show. He discovered that unlike the old days, where the goal was simply to drive people to the tube, getting audiences “emotionally involved” has become just as important. For example, O’Brien says it doesn’t hurt ratings to release clips and other information ahead of a broadcast. When Will Ferrell recently appeared on Conan in character as Ron Burgundy to reveal his plan to make a sequel of The Anchorman, “we chipped his appearance out into bite-sized pieces and put it out everywhere.” That resulted in higher ratings for the night. Even people who already know what’s coming “say, ‘You know what, it’s 5 minutes of 11; I’m going to check out Conan‘.” Unlike his days at NBC, where he says there was “a condescending attitude about the Web,” Turner Broadcasting has been “absolutely a dream come true…They’re up for anything we’re up for.” O’Brien contrasted the new approach to TV to the strategies used when Johnny Carson hosted The Tonight Show. Audiences used to wait for the anniversary special to see famous clips like the one of actor Ed Ames throwing
Conan O’Brien talks about his departure from The Tonight Show in his first appearance in 13 years on Late Show With David Letterman, tonight:
The late-night comic didn’t bring his best material this year. Conan O’Brien told advertisers that if the upfront event were held on Skype, then “we wouldn’t have to wear pants.” He also zinged Turner Broadcasting …
Conan O’Brien dropped in on Late Night‘s Jimmy Fallon last night, making his first live return to NBC since he was Zucker-ed in February 2010. He came by to pick up something he said he “left in the couch” — Triumph The Insult Comic Dog, which he’s contractually forbidden from …