Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien devoted major portions of their monologues Monday night to what they do best: parodying current events. In this case, the news concerned themselves.
As everyone who hasn’t been living under a rock knows (unless that rock has cable), NBC is acknowledging its mistake in moving Leno to primetime last fall, and after February’s Winter Olympics will shift him back to his original 11:35 p.m.-weeknight slot (though for only half an hour), and provide O’Brien with some options that have yet to be determined or announced or, for all the public knows, even been considered.
Not wasting the opportunity to lampoon their own situations, let alone their bosses, the late-night hosts let loose Monday night. First, Leno, who opened his 10 p.m. program by saying, “Welcome to the Jay Leno Show. As you know, we’re not just a show anymore, we are now a collector’s item.”
The lantern-jawed host continued, “As you may have heard, our show has been canceled Didn’t we just get fired in May? NBC said the show performed exactly as they expected it would. And then canceled us. Don’t confuse this when we were on at late night and preformed better than expected and they canceled us.”
As for the future, Leno said, “Supposedly we’re moving to 11:30 … even this is not for sure. My people are upset. Conan’s people are upset. Hey, NBC said they wanted drama at 10:00 – now they’ve got it!”
Closing the book on the subject – for Monday night, at least – Leno said, “I take pride in one thing: I leave NBC primetime the same way I found it – a complete disaster.”
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Meanwhile, on the Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien, the host told his audience, “There are a lot of rumors about what I’m going to do. I’ve got a lot of options. I thought I’d share some of them with you right now. I could:
• Host the Tonight Show at 12:05;
• Star in a Lifetime original movie about a woman trapped in an abusive relationship with her network;
• Go to ABC and star in a male redhead version of Cougartown called Redwolf Village;
. • Host a show on B.E.T. called White All Night;
• Move to FOX and follow their hit 24 with a new show called 24:05;
• Televise my own colonoscopy on the Bravo Channel in a show called Project Funway;
• Convince NBC to let me keep this timeslot if I can gain 10 pounds of chin;
• Andy [Richter, the sidekick] and I will become a team of wacky morning deejays called “Big Red and the Booger”;
• Pretend to put my son in a giant foil balloon, then sit back and watch the offers come pouring in!
• Perform the show live every night from Zanies Comedy Club at 7:30 and 9:30. (Half-price drinks if you tell ’em “Coco” sent ya!);
• Bring sanity back to NBC by hiring Gary Busey as head of programming;
• Leave television altogether, and work in a classier business with better people, like hardcore porn.
In a serious vein (yeah, sure), O’Brien added: “Everybody now wants to know what my plans are. All I can say is that I plan to continue putting on a great show night after night – while stealing as many office supplies as humanly possible.”
Also heard from, CBS’s David Letterman, whose ratings have benefitted from the confusion at NBC. Referencing Leno’s original late-night appointment, which had sent Letterman to a rival network, Dave told his audience Monday night, “Once again, I did not get the Tonight Show.”