Archive for the ‘Talk Shows’ Category

Conan’s final message from The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien.

“Before we end this rodeo, a few things need to be said. There has been a lot of speculation in the press about what I legally can and can’t say about NBC.  To set the record straight, tonight I am allowed to say anything I want. And what I want to say is this: between my time at Saturday Night Live, The Late Night Show, and my brief run here on The Tonight Show, I have worked with NBC for over twenty years.

Yes, we have our differences right now and yes, we’re going to go our separate ways.  But this company has been my home for most of my adult life.  I am enormously proud of the work we have done together, and I want to thank NBC for making it all possible.

Walking away from The Tonight Show is the hardest thing I have ever had to do. Making this choice has been enormously difficult. This is the best job in the world, I absolutely love doing it, and I have the best staff and crew in the history of the medium.

But despite this sense of loss, I really feel this should be a happy moment. Every comedian dreams of hosting The Tonight Show and, for seven months, I got to. I did it my way, with people I love, and I do not  regret a second. I’ve had more good fortune than anyone I know and if our next gig is doing a show in a 7-11 parking lot, we’ll find a way to make it fun.

And finally, I have to say something to our fans. The massive outpouring of support and passion from so many people has been overwhelming. The rallies, the signs, all the goofy, outrageous creativity on the internet, and the fact that people have traveled long distances and camped out all night in the pouring rain to be in our audience, made a sad situation joyous and inspirational.

To all the people watching, I can never thank you enough for your kindness to me and I’ll think about it for the rest of my life. All I ask of you is one thing: please don’t be cynical. I hate cynicism- it’s my least favorite quality and it doesn’t lead anywhere.

Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.”

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have something in my eye. (Also, in case you’re wondering what to do now that Jay Leno has taken back The Tonight Show, the answer can be found in two words- David & Letterman.)

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So. There’s good news and there’s bad news. The GOOD news is that there are some fantastical, magical, should-be-riding-on-unicorns shows on television in 2010. Some of those babies are so adored and beloved that their safety is secure. The bad news is that because of your neglect (yes, you. It’s your fault. I have a TV blog, I watch enough to cause social services to take my kids away.) some of them may very well be canceled before 2010 is out.

Fact: Earthquakes suck. FACT: Being financially stable enough to help people is awesome. Fact: Good TV can be saved too. Let’s do this.

5.  Better Off Ted (Tuedays 8:30/7:30pm, ABC)

Ah, yes. My panicked warbling about ABC’s (dare I say it?) quirkiest show continues. Great, snug writing, fantastically weird and likable characters, a setting that is just bursting with possible story ideas, Better Off Ted is a dream of a workplace comedy, capable of cheerfully zinging the ridiculousness of massive conglomerates in the same beat that a crazily-coiffed magician named Mordor the Unforgivable gets shot with a harpoon gun. Even this show on its worst day is far-and-away better than the middling sitcom fare you’ll find on CBS these days. At least tell Charlie Sheen to take a hike for God’s sake. Clear up some programming time for Ted instead (see what I did there? Classic Lemon).

4. Parks and Recreation (Thursdays 8:30/7:30pm, NBC)

One of the all-time best turnaround stories for a network comedy. When Parks and Rec first aired last year, I made it through two episodes before I had to stop watching. Despite my love for Amy Poehler, watching her grating, Tracy Flick-esque Leslie Knope stumble, crash and burn amongst coworkers and townspeople who seemed to despise her was too much for me. (That episode where she’s flagellated in a town hall meeting in front of her mother? Just painful.) And then… and then someone (probably Beal) told me to take another look at the show when season 2 came around. So I did. A few weeks back, I sat down and caught up on Parks and Rec. And then I proceeded to watch every episode back to back in the span of three days.

What’s different? Leslie Knope is now completely lovable. Sure, she’s still got her high-falutin’ ambitions but it’s tempered with a lot more self-awareness, a healthy dose of idealism and hard work. Instead of her begging for Anne’s friendship, you can tell Anne adores her. And Louis C. K as her boyfriend-cop? Adorable. The episode with Megan Mulally as a slutty, malicious bureaucrat for the library? Fantastic. And that damned Christmas episode made me tear up.

3. Friday Night Lights (Fridays 8:00/7:00pm, NBC)

Here’s how good this show is and I swear, sometimes I feel like I’m talking to a wall when I bring it up. My dad, holed up for weeks after surgery, got the first season of FNL thanks to his third and doting daughter’s recommendation. Cut to three weeks later. My mother, who is incapable of staying up past ten minutes of any show (something about the lull of the voices, the softness of the couch? Or maybe the fact that she gets up at 5am every day) is rabidly asking me when the show is coming back on NBC (DirectTV has shouldered the production costs with NBC, so it gets the new episodes first. I love you, DirectTV). My dad reports that she is obsessed. He even caught her sneaking upstairs to watch an episode while he napped and rested. When I brought up the scene where Smash learns he’s going to college, she choked up. And my father is just as hooked.

Returns to NBC on April 30th. Rent the first three seasons on Netflix. Email me a nice thank-you card when you’re done.

2. Lost (Tuesdays 8:00/7:00pm, ABC)

If you’ve been watching this show, then I don’t need to convince you to do anything. You’ll watch. You might shake your fist at Obama’s State of the Union if it pre-empts it too. Lost for us TV geeks is the very definition of appointment television (and there is far too little appointment television these days.)

For those of you who haven’t watched it- look, don’t be turned off by the “mysteries” and the “clues” and the “LEXICON.” It’s a show. A damned good show. The acting is good, the twists are great and when Lost is good? It’s very, very, very good. I could personally give a damn about what the polar bear symbolizes. To me, this is a twisted, funky show about a whacked out, magical island and the very flawed people stuck on it. The end. Watch it because it’s fun. And because I think this whole plan to map out the story and end it this year was a brilliant one (and something serial dramas should always do. Hello, shows-that-spin-out-of-control-toward-the-end-because-they-have-no-direction! Yes, Alias. I am talking to you.)

This is a big year for Lost. The last season. And there’s still time! Hole up for a few weekends, catch up and don’t get bogged down in all the extra stuff.

Returns to ABC on February 2nd.

1. The Tonight Show with CONAN O’BRIEN (Mon-Fri 11:30/10:30, NBC)

I have seen every single episode of Conan O’Brien’s Tonight Show, which would be a laudable feat if it had lasted the usual tenure of 10-15 years on air. It looks as if Coco’s run, however, will be capped at a measly 7 months. Catch up on the whole story here, just in case you’ve been on Mars for the last week and missed it.

I’ve tweeted and Facebooked and languished over every bit of news and every awkward and hilarious and awful and painful late night segment about the debacle since it all started with Heir Zucker’s announcement to move Jay Leno back to 11:30pm. I am, quite frankly, too sick at heart to talk about it for much longer. Suffice it to say, my perspective of the situation is merely one of a devoted fan. Like so many others, I’ve been watching Conan O’Brien for years and years, for so long that when he saw his dream of hosting The Tonight Show realized, I was beyond thrilled for him. He’s talented, he’s paid his dues and he deserved it. To see it taken from him just hurts.

I don’t care to dissect the reasons or the secret reasons behind the lineup changes or why we hate Jay and love Conan and what it means for comedy and for NBC. It’s all been said to death. Suffice it to say, Conan did not have enough time to secure his legacy with The Tonight Show or to prove himself in the ratings. We’ll miss him and we hurt for him. And wherever he goes, we’ll go. Simple as that.

The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien could very well end on Friday Jan. 22nd. Watch it until the fat lady sings or I will stab you in the face.

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Sorry about the silence around here. I’m battling a deadly disease (sounds better than “the sniffles”) and Beal’s life, it sounds like from Twitter, is basically unraveling at the seams.

Anyway, here’s a quick Round Up of the TV I’ve caught over the last two weeks and my thoughts because, oh, you are DYING to hear my thoughts.

Glee Fall Finale (Last Wed. 12/9)

Thoughts: First of all, kudos to FOX for brazenly creating a new thing- “the fall finale.” And we all just started saying it like shows freezing for months around the holidays isn’t a completely usual thing anyway. They’re called “reruns because everyone’s out shopping and putting on their winter weight.”

As for the episode itself, I seriously love this show and I would be remiss if I didn’t say that I’ve TiVoed back and watched Rachel belting out “Don’t Rain On My Parade” a dozen times since the show aired last week, the little gay man inside my straight woman’s body was doing cartwheels- CARTWHEELS.

Here’s my one problem- Glee is not the tightest-written show, as I’ve worried over before. They let storylines drop left and right (Artie and Tina- really, there’s nothing residual from that whole thing? And did crazy Terri actually tell Quinn she’s not taking the baby anymore? That seems like a HUGE hole) but this one just kills me. The Glee kids panic because the other teams stole their musical numbers for Sectionals, WHATEVER WILL WE DO? Here’s a thought- how about perform one of the DOZENS of other numbers you rehearsed all season long under the guise of a set-list for the competition. “Keep Holding On?” “Hair/Crazy in Love?” “True Colors?” “Jump?” You had routines and everything. So confused.

Top Chef Finale (Last Wed. 12/9)

Thoughts: Kevin was off his game and by the end of judging, I knew he was sunk. Just a heart-breaking loss for all of us who were a little creeped out by the Voltaggio brothers. I have to say, though, I think Michael deserved the win. His dishes were the best and he’s more innovative than his brother. Also, way to go for the cheap emotional hit by bringing their mother into the equation, Bravo. I could always count on you for the obvious blow.

So I guess we’re stuck with Michael “Blue Steel” Voltaggio. God help us all.

The Sing-Off (All Week on NBC)

Thoughts: My GOD, this show is terrible. TERRIBLE. Nick Lachey, as pleased as I am to see you working, you need to take your beefy hands off the mike you’re strangling and go back to making Vanessa some muffins, or whatever the hell you’ve been up to. The showboating, the jazz hands, the expressive facial movements that make my insides die. Last night, my friend remarked that all she wants is for the dude from the Police Academy to show up as a contestant, making all those sound effect noises and putting everyone to shame. That would be amazing. At least make him a judge next to Ben Folds and the King & Queen of Irrelevance. Judi says no.

“The Situation” and Snookie on The Tonight Show (Tues. 12/15 on NBC)

Thoughts: Snookie (of the now infamous Jersey Shore- like we needed yet another example of how MTV has turned from the cool older brother who lives in the attic and still has a sweet record collection to a $2 whore trying to get her five year old into beauty pageants so she could take her boyfriend Carl on that trip to Tijuana) admits she only likes guys who use STEROIDS. The Situation gives our Co-Co the best nickname ever (“The SOLUTION.” COME ON) And Italian-Americans everywhere, including myself, try frantically to remind everyone of the days when people only thought we were murderers and tax-evaders. So, yeah, awesome TV. Watch the clips here.

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by Judi

TiVo loves me. That’s why it tapes any show where Ewan MacGregor makes an appearance, because it knows I’ll make an embarrassing noise when I see his name listed in the show description and because TiVo wants to make me happy. Always tape it. Even if the show is terrible, I tell my little gray machine. Even if it’s… The Jay Leno Show.

So, the other day TiVo taped The Jay Leno Show. Because it was just doing as it was told. And I still wanted to yell at it.


Look, I don’t really have anything against Jay Leno. He seems like a genuinely sweet guy. I’ve seen him twice in person (once during an NBC Studio Tour in LA and the page, our own Kenneth, who had sworn up and down that we wouldn’t get to see him, actually started choking with surprise. The other was at Bud Ekins’ Memorial Service at the Warner Bros Lot.) He was kind and gracious and sweet both times. And TALL. Very tall.

But, as a huge fan of scripted television, the decision to stick a 10pm Jay Leno talk show in the usual NBC primetime slot reserved for show such as the cut-down-too-soon Southland and my precious Law & Order: SVU, filled me with dread. I wasn’t a fan of his Tonight Show to begin with but now NBC would be using it to edge out more creative (and more costly) programming, which had already seen huge cuts in recent years because of the surge of popularity for game shows and reality television. And what’s worse, the show is just not good and the ratings are worse. It’s like benching my kid and tossing a dying cat into the game instead. There are noises and awkwardness and I think we all just want to go home now.

Yesterday, I was all revved up to write this big, puffy “How to Fix Jay Leno”, only to find that AOL’s InsideTV beat me to it. And while their suggestions will definitely help (I particularly like “Tell Kevin Eubanks to Shut Up”), I’ve got a few more:


Copy A Different BBC Show: That racetrack, which Jay clearly pinched from his (and my) favorite car show Top Gear, looks ridiculous. It’s like when your little brother tries to dress like you but ends up in neon and puffy paint.  Did Disney build that track? Ewan MacGregor, who has driven the track on Top Gear and survived Jeremy Clarkson lambasting him for his preference for motorcycles, looked embarassed.

So, look. I’m not saying, “Don’t be a copycat” but let’s try another one of my favorite BBC gems instead. The Graham Norton Show. Now, I know you’re not gay, Jay, and you probably don’t want to offer your guests copious amounts of wine but Graham Norton’s set-up is the best talk show set-up I have ever seen. Throwing three guests (as wonderfully varied as The Osbournes, Ricky Gervais and Olivia Newton-John) all together on the couch and talking and letting them interact with each other, not just you, would be a HUGE breath of fresh air for the American talk show. I might even watch it.

A set-up like that allows the guests to back off of their “I’m just here to promote this” wagon. How else would we have learned that Orlando Bloom is hot, yes, but as dull as a box of nails? Or that Reese Witherspoon doesn’t know that there is, in fact, a North and South Jersey?


Alicia Silverstone and Joan Rivers. Aren't you intrigued by this???

Take to the Road: Back when this decision to keep Jay on NBC was made, there was a slew of arguments about why this was a good idea and all of them eventually came down to “Real America loves Jay Leno.” He’s kinder, gentler and way less esoteric than Letterman and Conan. He goes down like Mary Poppins’ “Rum Punch” tonic. The Midwest LOVES him. Old people find those denim shirts charming.


So, why is he still in LA? Sure, that’s where the guests are but guest segments can be filmed separately. Sure, it’s cheaper and more convenient for Jay to stick around his Beverly Hills compound. But if we’re looking to really save the show? Send Jay to Corn Festivals, to the town with that big old ball of yarn. Have him tape shows in KFW’s. Do a show in a car dealership in Akron, he loves his cars anyway. You want the pull of Real America back? Put them on TV. Conan does it occassionally and, while the remote segments are almost always funny, CoCo’s relegated to the LA area (and NY when he was the host of Late Night.)  Jay Leno already has the transportation. He’s got people and he’s got the need, most importantly, so send him to the people who got him here.


Hire Wanda Sykes Instead: Yeeeah, this one might be the toughest to take but just hear me out. I’m all for it to continue as The Jay Leno Show but maybe we can turn this more into an “Ed Sullivan” kind of situation.


Guest hosts, with Jay overseeing all as Lord & Master. Comedians who do their stand-up act INSTEAD of the dreadful monologue that’s notorious for sending people away, if it’s less than stellar. A Daily Show-like “fake news” reporter to deliver zingers on the world’s headlines for the day. Fill up that stage with guys and girls who are funnier than Jay and let them shine.




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Show: The Primetime Emmy’s 2007

Great Moment: Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert announce Ricky Gervais as the Best Actor in a Comedy and, since he’s not there to receive it, give it to their old Daily Show alum buddy Steve Carrell instead, prompting the greatest Man Hug of All Time and, really, the only funny moment of the 2007 Emmy telecast.

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by Judi

I have a new obsession and it’s all the BBC’s fault. Ok, maybe it’s Comcast’s fault for offering BBC. But no, Comcast provides me with a myriad of channels (most of them excruciatingly awful and unnecessary) so it’s really just BBC’s fault. As our forefathers said, “I blame England.”

Why I’m obsessed with Graham Norton now-


1) I will admit to suffering from Gay Withdrawal Syndrome so maybe that’s why I clap my hands with delight whenever I see the gaudy set, the glitter and the rows of Barbie dolls.

2) This format kicks ASS. It makes our talk shows seem completely dull by comparison. Instead of having guests on one at a time and pulling stunts in between (which are just filler, basically, as all we care about are the awkward guest interviews), Graham Norton has his two guests on for the whole hour and goes back and forth in questioning them, drinking wine, making them do ridiculous things and then having them join in on mocking the audience and things he’s found in books and the Internet. It’s a whole of hour of people mocking other people AND I MUST HAVE MORE.

3) It’s illuminating to see which celebrities can play along in this format (Brendan Frasier was especially good) and which ones just suffer horribly (Reese Witherspoon looked bored- which, how is that even possible?). Inevitably, one of the American guests will laugh along and mutter, “I didn’t know this was such a silly show.” I also love seeing such bizarre combinations (Thandi Newton and Ricky Gervais, Juliette Binoche and Gordan Ramsey, Cyndi Lauper and Jennifer Saunders, Goldie Hawn and someone I’ve never heard of before).

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by Judi


A couple of things about this:

1) That’s kind of COLD for Jimmy Fallon. What’s next? He’s going to propose a reunion of Blue Oyster Cult, only to have them all show up at Horatio Sanz’s house instead?

2) Nice cropping of Screech and Mr. B. whose creepiness, indeed, has increased exponentially since SBTB: The New Class.

3) Can I just say it? They all look really GOOD. Like, remember when they reunited the cast of The Facts of Life and it was kind of horrifying? I say two thumbs way up. Or maybe I’ll just make a circle with my thumb and a peace sign instead. What exactly is that sign anyway, Turtle?

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