Wow, that sure was fast. It’s only been ten months since Conan O’Brien was forced off the Tonight Show by Jay Leno, but already the late-night drama is being immortalized in book form. New York Times television writer Bill Carter has a new book coming out about the battle from Viking Press called “The War for Late Night.”
Vanity Fair has an excerpt online. Worth reading the whole thing, but this is a juicy little bit:
Leno had hosted The Tonight Show for 17 years. He had handed it over and immediately shifted to 10 o’clock, voluntarily. How, Conan asked himself, could any of this be construed as unfair to Jay?
“I know how hard I worked for this,” Conan told the NBC executives. “It was promised to me. I had a shitty lead-in.” His tone was soft, but the words were clipped. Graboff knew this was Conan in the raw, speaking from the heart.
Conan asked if Lorne knew; how about Jimmy Fallon? Gaspin said he had spoken to both of them already. He then urged Conan to give the idea some time, take it in, think about it.
Conan listened to Gaspin, still with a faraway look in his eye. Finally he did have something he really wanted to say, something that was all but burning a hole in his chest. “What does Jay have on you?” Conan asked, his voice still low, his tone still even. “What does this guy have on you people? What the hell is it about Jay?”
Previously on FBLA: Conan O’Brien Will Fight For His Masturbating Bear