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The Expansionist
Friday, January 22, 2010
 
Good Riddance to Conan O'Brien. I was sure, when Jay Leno was bumped off The Tonight Show, that Conan O'Brien would fail as his replacement, because I regard Conan O'Brien as a no-talent nothing. He can't put together 10 words without an "uh", and often more than one "uh" per 10 words — which is inexcusably unprofessional behavior. Sure enuf, that dopey hack failed to maintain Leno's ratings, so got the boot, but not before he was offered much more than he should have been, the right to continue to host The Tonight Show a half hour later than it has been airing in recent years. And he was to have a whole hour, while Leno, a vastly superior entertainer, was to have only half an hour.
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(Mind you, I have been annoyed at both those entertainers because of their occasional "jokes" about Newark and New Jersey more generally.)
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O'Brien should NEVER have been offered The Tonight Show , ever. Not five years ago, not this past week; not at 11:35, not at 12:05.
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I was astounded that his original contract for Late Night (in the 12:35am timeslot) was renewed. Astounded. I don't understand how anyone can put up with two or three uh's every single minute. What kind of moron attacks his audience endlessly, when all he need do is attend some speech-therapy sessions to unlearn that preposterous habit? And why would anybody put up with that? Caroline Kennedy was effectively disqualified from a temporary appointment as U.S. Senator because of one interview in which she said "you know" many times. But Conan O'Brien has been saying "uh" more often in every show for 16 years than Caroline K said "you know" in one interview. Bizarre.
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I'm also astounded that NBC paid him so much as 1¢ to go away — at his own choice. In effect, O'Brien quit, but was given severance as tho he had been fired. I used to work for lawyers. What kind of incompetent legal counsel drew up so grotesquely one-sided a contract?
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The idea that Conan O'Brien would be paid over $33 million (I have little quarrel with the payout of $12M to his displaced staff of some 200 — unless O'Brien takes them to whatever show he does next) is stunning in its stupidity and callous obliviousness in a time of deep recession, high unemployment, and vast misery in Haiti.
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Even more astoundingly stupid was NBC's allowing O'Brien to compete against NBC a mere seven months after leaving The Tonight Show . Non-compete clauses often require as much as a three- to five-year term. Given that O'Brien is being given MILLIONS, for nothing, he certainly cannot complain that he would be reduced to poverty for being unable to 'make a living' during that time. He could, for instance, write a book or do radio without competing against NBC Television. Mind you, I suspect that if Conan went head-to-head against Jay, he would be crushed in the ratings by the far-superior Leno. But it embarrasses me to have such a clod on American television at all. NBC should have insisted he remain off-air for at least two years, and preferably much, much longer — or leave NBC with nothing if he wanted to work elsewhere sooner than that.
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(The current U.S. military death toll in Iraq, according to the website "Iraq Coalition Casualties", is 4,374 — for Israel.)



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