Dear Leno

Dear Leno,

I know you’re busy with this late night drama, but I just want to remind you of what you said in 2004, since it seems you have forgotten this:

“When I took this show over[the Tonight Show], boy there was a lot of animosity between me and Dave [Letterman], and who’s gonna get it, and quite frankly, a lot of, what I thought, well good friendships were permanently damaged. And I don’t want to see anybody ever have to go through that again. Because, you know this show is like a dynasty, you hold it, and then you hand it off to the next person. And I don’t wanna see all the fighting and all the ‘who’s better’ and nasty things back and forth in the press, so right now, here it is, Conan, it’s yours, see you in 5 years buddy. Clear enough?”

Apparently, not clear to you.

c/o Joe Thibodeau

See, Jay, that’s the thing with promises… you’re supposed to keep them.

Considering how close you and Letterman were before you took the Tonight Show from him, I’m not all that surprised that you’d screw over someone you’re probably not even friends with. At least when you took the show from Letterman, it was your chance for a big break. Now, however, you’re already broken.

Your defense of “I’m just doing what I’m told,” is crap and you know it. Let’s not blame peer pressure here. You’re supposed to be a man, not an NBC robot.

Sure, NBC has messed up this entire late night situation. But did you really think that a one-hour variety show five times a week would work?

As part of the Comedy Store crew in the late 70s, you worked  tirelessly to perfect your stand-up. The dedication to your craft was clear even before you moved to LA, with your trips from Boston to New York City just for some stage time. It seems like you’d be one to understand the challenges of a nightly show.

American Idol is the most popular show on television and they don’t even have the gall to be on the air every weeknight. And they don’t even rely on writers.

Obviously, money should not be an issue at this point. But pride is still a factor, or at least I should hope it is. I feel like you set yourself up for failure as much as NBC set their network up for Level 1 Clusterfuck.

I think it’s time to not just be the bigger chin, but be the bigger man. Give Conan what you already gave him and let NBC find somewhere else for you. Or you can retire, and play with your phenomenal car collection. Either way, it’s time to step aside.


Rachel L. Arbeit


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