Last week, Dr. Phil, guesting on the ‘The Late Show,’ inadvertantly prompted host David Letterman into a rant against ‘Tonight Show’ host Jay Leno, one that surfaced his longstanding pique at NBC executives, this time for embarrassing his buddy Conan O’Brien, who had been hosting ‘Tonight Show’ before being asked to step down.
Old news, right? Even Dr. Phil shrugged and said something along the lines of, oh well, everyone went home with $30 million.
So, moving on…
Well, not so fast. The discussion continues tonight when Conan O’Brien sits opposite ‘60 Minutes‘ correspondent Steve Kroft and opens up for the first time since stepping away from ‘The Tonight Show.’ It’s been hyped for days, but in case you haven’t heard the gist of his sober (and somberly lit) confessional, it’s this: He was hurt, he doesn’t feel like he was given much of a chance to prove himself, and he left when he saw there wasn’t a future, and he sleeps well at night. He all but sings, “Don’t cry for me, America.”
Here are a few nuggets:
On surrendering his desk:
“If I had surrendered ‘The Tonight Show’ and handed it over to somebody publicly and wished them well,” O’Brien says, “and then, six months later…But that’s me, you know. Everyone’s got their own, you know, way of doing things.”
On Leno’s return to 11:30:
“He went and took that show back, and I think, in a similar situation, if roles had been reversed, I know — I know me, I wouldn’t have done that.”
On his present state of mind:
“I sleep well at night.”
Cynicism aside, Conan has taken the classy route to 60 Minutes. Once he decided to leave ‘The Tonight Show’, he disappeared from public view and let others do the talking, the debating, and the criticizing while he healed and got his act together. Literally. Last month, he returned onstage, starring in a triumphant – and funny – tour that spotlighted his inventive brand of comedy. He signed a new deal that will put him back on TBS at night in the fall. And now, finally, with something substantive to talk about, and with the perspective of time, he sat down with TV’s equivalent of The New Yorker.
Indicative of his understanding of the moment, he turned over most of an entire day to the 60 Minutes crew, at his home, and even let his wife, Liza, speak, which should make for a couple of fascinating minutes of TV.
Personally, I don’t even care about this issue anymore. I’m like Dr. Phil; everyone got paid tons of money, an obscene amount of money, and they’re doing fine. But I’m going to watch. And then I’m really done, done, done with this whole drama. I’m so done I might even start watching my ‘Best of Carson’ DVDs.