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unlocked 09.11.07 - YouTube link added 01.28.09
7:52 PM, Friday, February 23rd, 2007:
5 1/2 hours every weekday. That's a lot of late night. But if I expect to be a part of that (rounding it out to 6 hours) I have to know exactly what's going on. Now, after 2 straight weeks of watching these shows I certainly have my opnion on all of them. As Mr. Wonder said, "there is good and bad in everyone". Of course some more than others:
Letterman - My absolute favorite as a kid. I loved Carson first and then saw Letterman and was instantly hooked. What Letterman was on NBC in the late 80s - early 90s, was the definition of Late Night TV to me. It was why you stayed up because you knew he'd push the limit. Approaching 60 in April he is now the monarch and his show has certainly changed...as it should. You can't do the same thing at 60 you did at 35. I wish he'd still dunk himself in a water tank with an alka-seltzer suit on, or screw with the corporate owners but he simply doesn't have to. And honestly, he's the only show I have watched much of in the past 10 years of all the late night shows. I've always been a Letterman guy. Was amazed he didn't get the Tonight Show in '93...


Leno - ...which of course leads to Leno who I've been biased against since that moment. I will say however, if not for the Letterman vs. Leno war, I wouldn't mind Leno. He makes me laugh from time to time...but it just doesn't feel like Late Night to me. It feels like LA. Bottom line? I love NY, and that gritty, edgy feel comes from NY. Leno feels very "safe", "warm" and laid back. But again, this is the 11:30 crowd - they've earned the right to not kill themselves every night. For that we move to the after midnight crowd:


Kimmel - What a pain in the ass for Kimmel (who I really like), a 12-1 timeslot a half-hour off of everything. The truth of the matter is however, Nightline's half-hour still destroys everything in the ratings and as long as that continues, Jimmy gets pushed 30 minutes. Jimmy's writing shines and his bits are always creative. Unnecessary Censorship is one of the most original late night bits I've seen...ever. And the man hoofs it. He goes out and puts together bits that show energy. My only problem with Kimmel is he doesn't scream "long-time talk show host" to me. I'm not sure why that is. As well, it doesn't feel like an 11:30 show. Granted, it isn't, but it's weird how when you do more and are more creative it actually sets you too far apart from the 11:30 slots.


Ferguson - I'll be honest, until I got the "Up & Adam" news, I had never watched a show. I remember him getting the position after Kilbourn, but I never watched Kilbourn so I never thought about it. After watching him for 2 weeks - wow. He's hilarious. I mean his opening 15 minutes, every night, is always funny, ALWAYS comes off as personal, he is a seasoned comic and it's literally the best opening monologue I've ever seen. They never seem like a series of jokes and it's easily his strongsuit. His bits are very goofy and slapstick and his charisma always makes them funny. Very European though, and I know many people that are put off by it. Whatever, he's funny.


Conan - Love him. Just so funny. Every part of this guy makes me laugh. His interviews oftentimes are comedy bits in themselves worked out with the guest, the ones with Carrey last night were awesome, and it's apparent he still works his butt off. He doesn't ever seem to "take nights off". And the bottom line, he's just funny. He also had zero television experience (other than background on SNL and a comedy writer) when he got the gig at 30 years old. He is a very worthy successor to Leno on The Tonight Show in '09.


Daly - (sigh) ... where do I start. I can say this in all honesty, I liked the early version of his show. In fact, I really liked it. He would have a musical guest on, have them play the entire show, and talk to them in between songs. It was completely original and he seemed completely in his element. In August of 2005 however, he went from NY to LA, and turned his show into the format of every other talk show: monologue, bits, guest, music act. The problem? He's not comfortable in the format. The other problem? His appearence is so distracting that it is actually difficult to focus on what he's saying. He's lost easily 75 pounds and it's just a frightening difference. And, I hate to be so frank, but the show is just never funny. I'm sure he's a great guy, I liked him on TRL, I liked him on the earlier incarnation of this show, but the show now has zero energy. His opening monologue is so poor and amazingly - always like a week late. Watch it sometime, last night he said: "Did you hear Jet Blue left passengers on a plane for almost 11 hours?" Yeah, like TWO WEEKS ago. I mean the man only does 2-3 jokes a night, how the hell does this happen? I'm really suprised someone hasn't come in and revamped the show. I can only wonder what NBC's feelings are on him now. He's thrown his hat in the ring for Conan's show in '09, but I just can't see it happening. Seems they can't either as Jimmy Fallon is rumored to have a holding deal with them for a potential stab at the gig in '09. I have a feeling it'll be quite a rat race in a couple years.


So what have I garnered from all this analyzation? Confidence. My ideas for Up & Adam have so much energy and ambition I believe it will gain acclaim in record time. I work my ass off in everything I do, and this show will be no different. I believe at the end of every show, people at home will be shaking their heads: "How did he do that"... and then realize I do it every night. I don't want to get into specifics, I'll save that for the NY entry when I meet with Vinny on the 7th, but it just has so many positives. I simply can't wait to get started. I've never been more excited...
...I am however, pretty done watching late night TV. I'm on complete overload. All it does is make me want to start my show NOW, and I know we're months and months away. It also reminds me that this certainly isn't final, no matter how tailor-made everything is. I now want something I didn't even know existed 2 weeks ago...so bad it is all-consuming. Talking with Martha last night, she really feels that was the entire point. They knew damn well what they were doing when they told me 4 weeks out: want a late night talk show? It's to get me willing to do anything. I think there's gonna be some sort of deal with The Early Show while dangling Up & Adam as the carrot. Fine with me, just put it in writing. I have no problem being loyal to that morning show and Steve Friedman.
This is unbelieveable. I feel like I'm writing fiction.