The ABCs of Late Night

Some of you might have heard about the conflict at NBC between Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien, and the execs at the network. This primer will get you up to date so you can impress your friends at the water cooler on Monday.

A is for audiences, who have been experiencing some of the funniest episodes of late night talk shows in a long while

B is for NBC broadcast affiliates, whose tanking ratings due to the Jay Leno Show were one of the primary reasons they canceled it

C is for Conan O’Brien (or Coco for fans) who was promoted to the “Tonight Show” after Jay Leno announced his planned retirement in 2004. He only fulfilled 7-months of his years-long contract after NBC executives decided to move Jay Leno back to the 11:35 slot the “Tonight Show” traditionally held, moving the “Tonight Show” to 12:05 AM which Conan would not stand for.

D is for deal, which might entail NBC buying Conan out of his contract for around $25 million

E is for Dick Ebersol, an NBC executive who called Conan O’Brien’s tenure as “Tonight Show” host an “astounding failure”

F is for Fox, the network that has expressed some interest in picking up Conan as a late night talk show host, the first since Chevy Chase in 1993

G is for gossip, with websites like and Gawker making the most out of the drama by documenting every detail

H is for hate, with Jay Leno and NBC executives on the receiving end from fans and celebrities alike

I is for Internet, which has lit up in support for Conan with “I’m with Coco” becoming a popular saying

J is for Jay Leno, who “retired” in 2009 only to come back for the worst TV experiment in recent history “The Jay Leno Show”; the show was canceled, leaving 5 holes in the 10 PM network lineup and moved to the 11:35 PM slot bumping Conan to the 12:05 PM slot

K is for ABC late night host Jimmy Kimmel, who did a scathing impersonation of Jay Leno on his show and a scathing segment on Jay Leno’s own show

L is for David Letterman, who was part of a controversy concerning the “Tonight Show” along with Jay Leno back in 1992 when Jay got the show instead of him, who many expected

M is for monologues, which have become some of the most talked about TV segments lately; the controversy has been a surprising fountain of wealth for jokes, causing some sort of Late Night renaissance

N is for NBC, which is the 4th ranked network behind CBS, FOX, and ABC, down from its heyday of 1st in the 1990s

O is for over, as many speculate that “The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien” will have its last episode on Friday, January 22

P is for payout, which many believe will happen with Conan, giving him a chance to move to a different network

Q is for Last Call with Carson Daly which airs at 1:35 AM and  which most people forget like the letter Q

R is for ratings, which have gone up for almost all the talk shows since this controversy started

S is for Southern California, where the “Tonight Show” tapes and where all of Conan’s staff had to relocate to with the show

T is for The “Tonight Show”, the nearly 60-year-old late night institution and the highly sought after prize for Conan and Jay

U is for under-the-radar, with hosts Craig Ferguson, Jimmy Fallon, Jay Leno, and Carson Daly largely keeping mum about the whole situation

V is for Viacom, whose head honcho Sumner Redstone was just one of many who predicted the failure of the “Jay Leno Show” experiment (Redstone also owns CBS, currently the #1 network)

W is for Winter Olympics, which has reportedly lost $20 million for NBC in advertising since this whole debacle started

X is for X-ray, as in many people would like an X-ray of the NBC execs’ heads to know what they were thinking when they bungled up what used to be the #1 network on primetime

Y is for young audiences, who have turned back to late night shows in droves to support Conan and has largely fueled the “I’m with Coco” campaign

Z is for Jeff Zucker, the man who started it all, who wanted to keep both Jay and Conan on his network instead of letting them go, who championed the “Jay Leno Show,” who moved Jay back to 11:35 causing Conan to practically all but quit, and who many say ruined NBC