Scott McKain, an adviser to many on how to more effectively run a business, just did a great article on how NBC screwed up with this Leno at 10 problem.
What Scott doesn’t point out in his advice is that the change is not always necessary for the good of the company. In this case, Conan was getting his butt kicked by the more experienced (and more entertaining) Letterman.
1) Don’t EVER make the assumption that ANY productive employee is ready to be put out to pasture. We work for many reasons, and only ONE of them is money. Zucker’s assumption that Leno was wealthy enough and would want to ride off in the sunset started the disastrous chain of events.
I am not a bit surprised that Leno is in trouble at NBC. Moving that format to 10P in the 21st century was foolish. It may have been okay in the 50s or 60s but that show was doomed the day that Jay Leno walked on to the stage.
The executives that put this together should be fired. It should be the first thing that Comcast does now that they have control of the company from GE. Fire the buffoons that did this. Talk about destroying a valuable commodity! Warren Buffet says that you should only invest in companies that can be profitable even if idiots run them. I don’t know if I agree with that advice but I definitely don’t think you should invest in companies that are run by buffoons!
On Monday, Conan O’Brien was given the keys to one of the best jobs in television. The Tonight Show has been going strong since 1954 and is one of the longest running shows ever. It was first hosted by Steve Allen, then Jack Parr (very shortly), followed by the masterful Johnny Carson, and finally Jay Leno. The producers should have left the show with people that have a first name beginning with “J” since Conan simply doesn’t have what it takes.
It is interesting that Conan took the job over from Leno where he comes from taking the David Letterman vacated show. Letterman was upset that he didn’t take over for Carson and left to form a show on a rival network. Leno and Letterman have been battling for the entire time and Leno consistently won. Now it appears that Letterman will easily have the upper hand since there is no way the very un-funny O’Brien can compete.