Sunday, March 6, 2011

The War for Late Night: When Leno Went Early and Television Went Crazy by Bill Carter

I enjoyed reading this book. Even though it received significant coverage when it happened, Carter got the inside story and put all the pieces together. NBC was in a quandary. They had promised the Tonight Show to Conan O'Brien. The catch? He had to wait five years before Jay Leno would move over and allow him to take over. Unfortunately NBC's plans did not work out. Prompted by poor ratings and a revolt by their affiliates, a new plan was created that bumped O'Brien off the Tonight Show replaced with Leno.

Carter was able to piece the strategies, thinking and background on Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien and David Letterman. Carter also recounted Letterman's struggle when he revealed that he had sexual relationships with women in his staff.

Conan O'Brien comes off very well and highly principled. His concern for his staff and their futures was refreshing given the selfish mindset of many celebrities.

Jay Leno does not come off as well as Conan but he is not the total villain that he was portrayed in the press and by other comedians.

This book was highly sourced and researched. A very good read.

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