Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category

Quiting your job the JetBlue way

August 22, 2010

The big hype on the JetBlue flight attendant, who cursed out an  unruly passenger and then grabbed a couple of beers and slid down the emergency chute to fame, possibly fortune and a chance at jail time, has subsided in the media.

It appears that he is still facing charges for reckless endangerment and criminal mischief. Although I would be curious to know just what that means. By exiting the plane in a somewhat unconventional manner he probably ran afoul of some federal law pertaining to airport safety or U.S. terrorism laws or whatever. There seem to be enough laws on the books these days to cover every possible situation. I read earlier that he was also being charged with theft – I presume for the two beers that absconded with – but that may or may not be the case. However police have been known to pile on the charges initially on a ‘just in case’ scenario or possibly to simply intimidate the miscreant.

As to the fame and fortune he now has a publicist.

Quitting your job usually leads to bookmarking Monster.com on your laptop and watching M*A*S*H DVDs in your underwear, not fame and fortune. Of course, if for your final act at said job you lay down an expletive-laced tirade over an intercom system and exit via an emergency escape tube, the way former JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater reportedly did, the standard rules may not apply. After a week of his story saturating a strangely obsessed media, on Sunday Slater procured the services of top publicist Howard Bragman to help deal with media relations and manage the numerous offers said to be coming his way.

Can a book and a movie be far behind?

But then again Slater might not be the pure folk hero that the media initially made him out to be.

JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater may have been drinking long before he grabbed a beer and made a dramatic exit from a jetliner by opening an emergency slide to the tarmac at New York’s Kennedy Airport, police said today.

Witnesses have also told police that it was Slater who was rude to passengers, and the cut on his forehead came at the beginning of the flight, not during an altercation with a surly passenger after the plane landed as Slater has claimed.

Nor does it appear that he actually quit his job when he made his dramatic exit. So it wasn’t really a glorious ‘take this job and shove it’ moment.

A flight attendant accused of cursing out a passenger on an airplane passenger-address system, grabbing some beer from the galley and exiting on an emergency slide was suspended Tuesday. The attendant’s lawyer said a rule-breaking passenger provoked him.

There is more often than not a lot more to a story than initially gets on the front page.

Oak Ridge Boys in Kelowna

August 1, 2010

Just returned from seeing the Oak Ridge Boys at the Kelowna Community Theatre. They put on a great, high energy show to a packed theatre.

Old crowd for the most part though, but then we all go back a long ways with the The Oak Ridge Boys. Although there was a 13 year old there that impressed them when they saw her singing along to all of the old songs.

I think that they were pleased with the reception they got from the Kelowna crowd. They got a spontaneous standing ovation at the end of one song, mid concert.  Something you don’t see too often – especially with a seniors crowd. They claimed they were coming back next year.

Anyway, a great performance, they still sound good and look like they’re having fun up there. It was also a pleasure to see a group like that in a smaller theatre. They advertise that there are 853 seats in total.

After finishing at Kelowna tonight their next show was in Sweet Home, Oregon (I think near Eugene) tomorrow at 2:00 PM. They have a brutal traveling schedule. I hope they really love what they do.

George Steinbrenner dies and CBC remembers Seinfeld

July 17, 2010

George Steinbrenner died this past Tuesday with news stories on all TV stations talking about his accomplishments and the controversies .that he generated, of which there were many.

CBC Television had a different take on Steinbrenner’s career.

The CBC news show pointed out that for some people the Steinbrenner name would be  more familiar to the viewers of the old Jerry Seinfeld show, where the George Costanza character worked for Steinbrenner, who was portrayed by an actor always filmed with his back to the camera. The news story then went from Steinbrenner to clips from Seinfeld showing the actor playing a fictitious Steinbrenner.

It was a bit bizarre and I wondered whom in the CBC news department thought that clips from an old TV show showing the backside of an actor playing a comedic interpretation of the Yankee’s owner was a valid part of the retrospective  for Steinbrenner.

I ‘m sure they did better on the sports channels.

Paula Creamer: 2010 U.S. Woman’s Open Champion

July 12, 2010

I watched the U.S. Woman’s Open Championship today, played on the Oakmont Golf Course where Paula Creamer overwhelmed the field, shot the only under-par score for the tournament (a 283, 3-under total), beating her closest competitors by 4 strokes and registering her first Major win at the age of 24.

What is unbelievable is not so much that she won the Open at the age of 24, it’s that she is only 24. It just seems as though she has been around a long time although it has only been 5 years, turning professional in 2005.

Today she put on a marvelous display, hitting her drives on a rope and making the putts when she needed them. This after a surgery on her thumb in March and with her hand still taped up.

A great competitor and fun to watch her play in top form..

The world is truly an amusing place

May 24, 2010

With everything that goes on in the world it is sometimes difficult to keep a straight face. A couple of items I recently came across amused the hell out of me.

The first was a blog by a gentleman by the name of J. Neil Schulman.

May 21, 2010 — Author/filmmaker, J. Neil Schulman, today announced his intention to file a lawsuit for copyright infringement of his 1979 novel, Alongside Night, which tells the story of the collapse of the American economy due to massive government overspending and the issuing of unbacked money and credit to pay the interest on the national debt.

Schulman intends to name the United States government as his primary defendant. According to Schulman, “The United States government — both the executive and legislative branches, aided by the courts, have stolen the entire premise — and a lot of the plot — of my novel!”

Schulman also intends to name, as co-defendants in his copyright infringement lawsuit, the Federal Reserve Bank, the European Union, the International Monetary Fund, General Motors, and the country of Greece.

“Just look at TV news or read a newspaper,” Schulman said. “Plot point after plot point is identical. In my 1979 novel I have General Motors go bankrupt — General Motors then files for bankruptcy. I have Europe issue a common currency in my novel called the ‘eurofranc’ — the European Union then goes and issues the ‘euro.’ In my novel I have a European Chancellor, based in France, accuse the U.S. President of having the monetary policies of a banana republic — then the President of the European Union — also based in France — slams U.S. plans to spend its way out of recession as ‘a road to hell’ and says President Barack Obama’s massive stimulus package and banking bailout ‘will undermine the liquidity of the global financial market.’ The copycat nature of all these plot points and dialogue” — says Schulman — “could not be more obvious!”

Aside from the obvious satire of the proposed lawsuit, the book, Alongside Night is an award winning novel. But if the novel parallels the current economic crisis as Schulman says, he must have been having a vision when he wrote it back in 1979. Nevertheless, a very funny piece which will probably renew interest in the book. (Thanks to Instapundit for the pointer).

The second item was not a joke, but a little byplay in the ongoing war of words with Arizona over their illegal immigration legislation.

In response to the Arizona legislation, the city of Los Angeles voted to boycott all official travel there and end all future contracts with Arizona businesses.

Well, as it turns out, Los Angeles gets 25% of its power from Arizona.

Upon which, the commissioner of the Arizona Corporation Commission wrote a letter to the LA mayor.

I was dismayed to learn that the Los Angeles City Council voted to boycott Arizona and Arizona-based companies – a vote you strongly supported – to show opposition to SB 1070 (Support our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act).

You explained your support for the boycott as follows: “While we recognize that as neighbors, we share resources and ties with the State of Arizona that may be difficult to sever, our goal is not to hurt the local economy of Los Angeles, but to impact the economy of Arizona. Our intent is to use our dollars – or the withholding of our dollars – to send a message.” (emphasis added)

I received your message; please receive mine. As a state-wide elected member of the Arizona Commission overseeing Arizona’s electric and water utilities, I too am keenly aware of the “resources and ties” we share with the City of Los Angeles. In fact, approximately twenty-five percent of the electricity consumed in Los Angeles is generated by power plants in Arizona.

If an economic boycott is truly what you desire, I will be happy to encourage Arizona utilities to renegotiate your power agreements so Los Angeles no longer receives any power from Arizona-based generation. I am confident that Arizona’s utilities would be happy to take those electrons off your hands. If, however, you find that the City Council lacks the strength of its convictions to turn off the lights of Los Angeles and boycott Arizona power, please reconsider the wisdom of attempting to harm Arizona’s economy.

People of goodwill can disagree over the merits of SB 1070. A state-wide economic boycott of Arizona is not a message sent in goodwill.

Sincerely,

Commissioner Gary Pierce

The letter doesn’t actually threaten to cut off the power to Los Angeles,  as some news media have implied, but it does point out the hypocrisy inherent in the Los Angeles call for a boycott.

Whether the situation will further deteriorate from this point on is an unknown, but Pierce must have thoroughly enjoyed writing the letter.

One can find humour almost anywhere you look, especially in politics.

Gymnastics made easy (The Chinese way)

May 9, 2010

This is an absolutely amazing video that I first saw posted on Small Dead Animals. Many of the gymnasts are very young, indicating that they were brought into the training systems at a very, very young age (maybe pre-birth?).

I could speculate on what happens to these kids once they grow out of the job or get injured along the way. Hopefully they are getting a good education in the process, but who knows.

But in the interim this is spectacular viewing.

2010 Masters’ Championship: Great Theatre

April 12, 2010

I pretty much glued myself to the TV for the 4 days of the Masters’ tournament. And good TV golf it was, with Tom Watson at 60 showing good form on day one, although he faded as the tournament progressed. Freddy Couples looking like a champion on Thursday, taking the first day lead by shooting his lowest ever one day score at the Masters, then dropping back on Friday but rallying on Sunday to look like a contender for a brief moment.

Contrary to all of the speculation about hecklers it appeared that Tiger received a pretty warm welcome from the fans patrons. After the first day it looked as though he had a real shot at winning the tournament, but by Sunday ended up tied for 4th place with KJ Choi while playing with what increasingly looked to be his ‘C’ game.

It seemed as though he had hacked his way out of the tournament by going 3 over by the 5th hole, then he holed one from the fairway on the 7th for an eagle and then went birdie/birdie on the 8th and 9th for a 1-under front nine. The back nine had another eagle and two birdies, only to be marred by an unbelievable 3 putt on the 14th where Woods stepped up to his short par putt and stabbed it by the hole. I was surprised that he didn’t simply self-immolate on the spot. The anger and frustration absolutely radiated from the TV screen. What was incredible to watch was Woods’ ability to continually recover from what appeared to be tournament ending shots, particularly off the tee.

Not that others, including Mickelson, didn’t put themselves in less than perfect spots and make amazing recoveries – particularly Phil’s recovery on the 13th, playing off pine needles and with a small gap in the trees to the green. He then proceeded to stick it on the green with a very real chance at an eagle putt (missed, but what the hell).

But for all of their skill and their experience it was an education in the mental aspect of the game to see what happens on the final day of a major tournament where winning means so much more than just the dollar value of the tournamen: Where they are playing for a place in the history of the game.

KJ Choi who had played like a well-oiled machine blew back-to-back bogeys on the 13th and 14th, then birdied the 15th, but his chance was gone.

Lee Westwood who looked invincible up until Sunday went 1-over par on the front nine but steadied down to shoot a 1-under for the day, which was a far cry from his 5-under on Thursday, his 3-under on Friday and is 4-under on Saturday and not enough to hold off a charging Phil Michelson who finished off his pressure packed Sunday with a bogey-free 5-under par.

Then it looked for brief moment that Anthony Kim might come on as a spoiler, starting on the 13th with a birdie/birdie/eagle/birdie run that at the end put him in 3rd place with a wonderful 7-under par 65 and a 12-under total for the tournament. This is a guy that could really blow away the competition at some point. Not just because he shot a 65 on Sunday-at-the-Masters.  On Thursday, beginning on the 10th hole, Kim went 3 bogeys in a row, recovered with an eagle on the 13th and then took another bogey on the 14th and still ended up shooting a 4-under 68. Having won the previous week’s tournament and with his showing in the Master’s Kim may be on the cusp of achieving his real potential.

But at the Masters Mickelson never backed off. Shooting a 67 on Friday, ‘blowing’ to a one-under par 71 on Friday and then a pair of 67s on the weekend for a 16-under final score and finishing strong with a birdie on the 18th. A marvelous and exciting performance.

A great Masters, even though it sucked away 4 days of my life.

Tiger Woods: Everyone is an expert

March 30, 2010

I have almost reached the point of feeling sympathy for Woods over his personal problems. I say ‘almost’, as his problems were all caused by his own arrogance and lack of personal discipline and quite frankly – stupidity. Not that those are failings exclusive to Mr. Woods.

Contemplate briefly Bill ClintonJohn Edwards, Kobe Bryant, Jesse James, Mark Sanford, and sundry other high profile philanderers. All of them, with much to lose, and who seemed to think that they could act out their sexual fantasies free and clear of any media intrusion.

What were they thinking – if they were thinking at all?

But back to the Tiger.

What has begun to generate some sympathy, at least on my part, is the schizophrenic commentary that has become the norm when writing about the trials and travails of golf’s number one player.

If you read any amount of the tripe that has been written it becomes apparent that no matter what decision that Woods might make regarding his return to golf it will be wrong in someone’s eyes.

It was the opinion of some that the timing of his press conference during the Accenture golf tournament was  obviously to punish Accenture for dropping him as a client.  Some punishment. Accenture got more publicity in the MSM than they ever could have hoped for from the sponsorship of the golf tournament.

Of course there has been the ongoing debate of when Tiger would come back and when he should come back. There were those that argued that he should stay away from the game for an extended period until he had somehow been purified. I got the feeling that some thought that he should retire from the game permanently as being proven unworthy of treading the fairways alongside of rest of the tour players who no doubt had been vetted and approved as his moral superiors.

They were further offended when Woods showed up practicing at Ilseworth as if that showed a further flaw in his character.

After all of the debate as to when he would return and the various speculations about which venue he would choose, he announced that he would return to play the 2010 Masters at Augusta.

Whoops! Wrong decision again. Making his debut at the Masters would be too disrespectful to the event with all of the media hype that would be involved. Ignoring of course the massive television coverage the tournament would generate.

But then it was felt that he should have shown some loyalty to Arnold Palmer and played in Palmer’s Bay Hill tournament prior to the Masters. Of course if he had, the criticisms would have been the same as for his decision to open with the Masters.

For the most part, the personal opinions emanating from professional golf writers has been bad enough, but the Tiger soap opera has morphed into such a major event (no pun intended there) that everyone with a computer has turned into a sports writer. Most of them not knowing a wedge from a wedgie.

An example of the previously mentioned schizophrenia is brilliantly manifested in an interview with Peter Arliss the British golf commentator (the pointer thanks to Geoff Shackleford, who, since the beginning of the Tiger debacle has bounced between being a golf journalist and a gossip  columnist).

Arliss can’t seem to make up his mind where he stands with Tiger.

“I’m surprised, in a way, they are letting him play there,” Alliss said. “It either shows they have a desire to be helpful or a weakness. It would have been rather grand — but would have perpetuated the stupidity of it — if they had said, ‘Sorry, we don’t want your sort here.’

Although -

… Alliss dismisses the notion that it is disrespectful to the other players for Woods to bring his circus to town in Masters week.

But -

…. he was withering in his condemnation of the 14-times major champion for choosing the middle of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in February to make his first public statement since November, that cringing mea culpa. “Ernie Els was right when he used the word ‘selfish,’ ” Alliss said. “It was thoughtless and I didn’t like it.

Then again -

“But we’ve all done stupid things. If you are a red-blooded male and you’re chatted up by a decent-looking bird, it’s very hard to not say yes. It was a lot easier in my day. I remember some very famous golfers who used to book into hotels as Mr and Mrs.”

Does this mean that what Tiger did was not really wrong? Just bad timing?

And -

If anything sticks in Alliss’s craw it is doing daft things in your own backyard. He recalls an old-timer telling him never to “get tiddly” at a golf club. Little wonder, therefore, that he remains unimpressed with the behaviour of two of Great Britain’s finest golfers.

“My lasting memory is seeing Ian Woosnam come out of the front door at Augusta p***ed with Sam Torrance,” he said. “Both of them fell in the bushes and it wasn’t a very good sight. I thought, ‘Boys, boys. Get a couple of bottles and go home. Don’t get p***ed here.’

OK, so if Tiger has taken his adventures out of the country???

And on it goes.

As far as I’m concerned Tiger’s tragedy is in his own hands. If he doesn’t want to bare his soul to the ravening press then more power to him. All he really needs to provide us with is the opportunity to watch him play his spectacular game of golf.

I hope he come back strong to the game of golf and I hope he dominates the sport again. In fact I hope he wins the Masters in April.

But what I would really like to see is a swelling of applause for Woods the golfer as he steps onto the first tee.

Wouldn’t that make the naysayers choke on their morning toast.

Drinking the Olympic Kool-Aid

February 14, 2010

The 2010 Winter Olympics are now underway in Vancouver.

My early – pre-torch run – impression was that the Canadians were pretty blase about the whole thing. But that seemed to change as the Olympic flame wended its way across Canada. There were certainly enthusiastic crowds that turned out to watch the torch as it was carried through the various locales.

Personally, I am not a fan of the Olympics. I think that somewhere they lost their way, although the winter games possibly less so than the more prestigious summer games.

I am not sure just when the Olympics ‘jumped the shark’ for me personally, but it may have been in 1988 when Ben Johnson fell of his pedestal – or podium – as the case may be.

I was on a sheep hunt in B.C.’s Spence’s Bridge area at the time and was sitting in a local pub watching the race on TV. It was an exhilarating moment which was brought to earth a couple days later when the drug scandal broke.

We had known for years that there was a win at any cost mentality at the Olympics, seeing female East German swimmers with shoulders you could set a table on, and Russian female athletes on one hand who looked as though part of their daily regimen was a morning shave, to lithe little gymnasts who never seemed to grow up. All of which pretty much turned out to be true.

But that was the doing of those nasty Eastern bloc socialists and somehow ‘our’ athletes were the true amateurs, and at one point that may have been a bit closer to the truth.

But the Olympics became corrupted when governments began to use them to showcase their country and more importantly their political agendas. It may have always been thus, but in modern times the 1936 Olympics in Germany stands out.

Hitler used the games to try and sell his theories of white supremacy, only allowing members of the Aryan race to compete for the country. But his boast of Aryan supremacy was famously brought down by the 4 gold medals won by the great U.S. athlete, Jesse Owens.

It turns out that the 1936 Olympics was simply the harbinger of things to come, with government beginning to demand and expect medal winning capabilities from the athletes they sent to the games and the use of Olympic boycotts to make political statements.

The Olympic Council of Ireland boycotted the 1936 Berlin Games, because the IOC insisted its team be restricted to the Irish Free State rather than represent the entire island of Ireland.[104] There were two boycotts of the 1956 Melbourne Olympics: Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland refused to attend because of the repression of the Hungarian uprising by the Soviet Union; Cambodia, Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon boycotted the Games because of the Suez Crisis. In 1972 and 1976 a large number of African countries threatened the IOC with a boycott to force them to ban South Africa and Rhodesia, because of their segregationist regimes. New Zealand was also one of the African boycott targets, because its national rugby union team had toured apartheid-ruled South Africa. The IOC conceded in the first two cases, but refused to ban New Zealand on the grounds that rugby was not an Olympic sport.  Fulfilling their threat, twenty African countries were joined by Guyana and Iraq in a Tanzania-led withdrawal from the Montreal Games, after a few of their athletes had already competed. Taiwan also decided to boycott these Games because the People’s Republic of China (PRC) exerted pressure on the Montreal organizing committee to keep the delegation from the Republic of China (ROC) from competing under that name. The ROC refused a proposed compromise that would have still allowed them to use the ROC flag and anthem as long as the name was changed. Taiwan did not participate again until 1984, when it returned under the name of Chinese Taipei and with a special flag and anthem.

In 1980 and 1984, the Cold War opponents boycotted each other’s Games. Sixty-five nations refused to compete at the Moscow Olympics in 1980 because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. This boycott reduced the number of nations participating to 81, the lowest number since 1956.[110] The Soviet Union and 14 of its Eastern Bloc partners (except Romania) countered by boycotting the Los Angeles Olympics of 1984, contending that they could not guarantee the safety of their athletes. Soviet officials defended their decision to withdraw from the Games by saying that “chauvinistic sentiments and an anti-Soviet hysteria are being whipped up in the United States”. The boycotting nations of the Eastern Bloc staged their own alternate event, the Friendship Games, in July and August.

There had been growing calls for boycotts of Chinese goods and the 2008 Olympics in Beijing in protest of China’s human rights record, and in response to the disturbances in Tibet and ongoing conflict in Darfur. Ultimately, no nation supported a boycott. In August 2008, the government of Georgia called for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics, set to be held in Sochi, Russia, in response to Russia’s participation in the 2008 South Ossetia war. The International Olympic Committee responded to concerns about the status of the 2014 games by stating that it is “premature to make judgments about how events happening today might sit with an event taking place six years from now”

Which is quite a history of governments playing their owns games on the backs of their athletes.

Then there is the case of the vanishing amateur. For years various countries got around the rules against professional athletes in the Olympics by various means, but when it became increasingly apparent that many athletes were amateurs in name only the barriers against professional athletes came crashing down. Professional hockey players are now key to winning Olympic teams and the U.S. basketball dream team at the 1992 games in Barcelona featured players such as Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Scottie Pippen and Charles Barkley. With the addition of golf to the Summer Olympics we can expect to see full rosters of PGA professionals on many country’s teams.

All of which leaves the Olympic Games as a rather tarnished spectacle in my eyes. Certainly there are magnificent moments brought on by the skill and focus of superior athletes. That is the case with any high level sporting event. But to spout on about the purity of the games and their noble aspect is an insult to one’s intelligence.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC), which controls the Olympics, is run primarily by a group of elitists and has had its own problems with scandal.

Scandal broke on 10 December 1998, when Swiss IOC member Marc Hodler, head of the coordination committee overseeing the organization of the 2002 games, announced that several members of the IOC had taken bribes. Soon four independent investigations were underway: by the IOC, the USOC, the SLOC, and the United States Department of Justice.

Before any of the investigations could even get under way both Welch and Johnson resigned their posts as the head of the SLOC. Many others soon followed. The Department of Justice filed charges against the two: fifteen charges of bribery and fraud. Johnson and Welch were eventually acquitted of all criminal charges in December 2003.

As a result of the investigation ten members of the IOC were expelled and another ten were sanctioned. This was the first expulsion or sanction for corruption in the more than a century the IOC had existed. Although nothing strictly illegal had been done, it was felt that the acceptance of the gifts was morally dubious. Stricter rules were adopted for future bids and ceilings were put into place as to how much IOC members could accept from bid cities.

and on the same event.

Speaking for the first time since the controversy blew up, Welch openly admitted giving IOC members whatever they wanted in order to buy their support – arranging everything from plastic surgery for a member’s wife to cash payments into bank accounts and scholarships for relatives.

The Olympic movement was rocked when the scandal came to light three years ago and six members were expelled after an investigation by the committee’s headquarters in Lausanne.

But Welch claims this was a face-saving exercise. ‘It was all for show,’ he told OSM . ‘If what those expelled members did was wrong and everyone else on the IOC was to be judged by the same standards, then probably 80 per cent should have been kicked out.’

Those were the people, he said, who were ‘imposing themselves on you, asking for things and pushing for lavish hospitality’. He said they expected to be treated ‘like lords’ and other cities wishing to host the Olympics had played along too. ‘We bust our butts off to be the greatest hosts,’ he said.

The IOC considered their investigation of allegations against its members to have been thorough and found no evidence of wrongdoing by other members.

Welch, who is now aged 55 and lives in California, revealed that one IOC member was known as a ‘human vacuum cleaner’ because he sucked up a quarter of a million dollars worth of gifts, hospitality and cash.

Another IOC member tricked Welch into paying cash into a London bank account for a daughter who, it was later discovered, did not exist. In both cases the IOC members were expelled.

There is nothing pure and clean and wonderful about the Olympics. That may have been the case at one time in our innocent past, but not for a long time now.

Most of the athletes – at least the top ranked ones in many countries  – do very well financially and more power to them. If governments are going to bask in their glory then they should be able to make their hard work and dedication pay off. They are the ones that bring the viewers to the TV sets and to the actual events.

But don’t feed me any of the crap about patriotism and noble ideals. The Olympics is a sports spectacle that is used by politicians, at best to showcase their country or their region, and at the worst to improve on their personal images and drive political agendas.

The aftermath of the late night wars

February 1, 2010

I am somewhat puzzled by the fact that Jay Leno has apparently turned out to be the villain in NBC’s debacle over the Tonight Show.

It seems to me that the only villain here is the NBC decision makers and I suspect they’re less villain than incompetent.

How did this all play out?

1. Five years ago Leno’s contract comes due with NBC at the same time that Conan O’Brien is making noises about leaving the Late Night Show and taking his act somewhere else. NBC doesn’t want to lose O’Brien and see him go to another network, so they promise him the Tonight Show in 5 years if he stays where he is. O’Brien agrees.

2. The NBC execs tell Leno that they will give him a 5 year contract and at the end of the contract – even though his show is currently number one in late night – he has to leave the Tonight Show and let O’Brien take over that time slot. They apparently think that by the end of the 5 years, Leno’s rating will have slipped away.

3. Leno agrees, and at the end of his 5 year contract – even though he is still holding the Tonight Show in its #1 spot – Leno steps down and turns the show over to O’Brien. Leno actually steps away before his contract is over.

4. Leno asks to be released from his contact with NBC but NBC decides now that it doesn’t want to lose him either, knowing that he will probably be picked up by another network and become a competitor to their existing shows.

5. NBC then asks Leno to step into the prime time 10 PM time slot and do his show there. Leno accepts, even though he must know it is a risky move to try and put a talk show in that time slot. But NBC says they have done the research and besides, it is far cheaper for them to run than a drama or a sitcom. The affiliates aren’t happy, but NBC thinks it will work.

In hindsight, there are people second guessing Leno’s decision to accept this show. They seem to feel that he should have refused the offer from NBC. But why would he? NBC wouldn’t release him from his contract, have offered him the challenge of trying to make his show work in prime time, enabled him to keep his staff employed and have ensured him that their research says that the concept will work. Why would he feel compelled to turn that down?

6. Now seven months down the road, Conan O’Brien’s Tonight Show is down on the rating scale, having lost Leno’s #1 position. Leno hasn’t captured a big enough market at 10 PM – even though the show is making a profit for the network -  and the affiliates are about to rebel. Now NBC has another problem. Forced to cancel Leno’s show or lose affiliates, they have the option of dumping Leno and keeping O’Brien, who doesn’t have the ratings they want. But NBC, true to its corporate self, wants to have it both ways. They want to find some way to keep both men rather than lose one of them -either one – to some competitor. So they come up with their next brilliant idea.

7. NBC comes to Leno and tells him that they are thinking about giving him a half hour show at 11:35 PM and moving O’Brien and the Tonight Show back to 12:05 AM.

If Leno made a mistake anywhere in this process, it was here. He should have picked up the phone, called O’Brien and said, “what the hell’s going on here? Are you OK with this”? But he didn’t. He says he asked if Conan was alright with this and the network said that he would be, and he left it at that. A lot of his own problems might have been alleviated if he had just made that call.

Conan’s reply to NBC was, in effect, stick it in your ear and it all went further downhill from there.

8. NBC drops Conan O’Brien from the Tonight Show and asks Jay Leno to step back in and Leno accepts. Now Conan is the martyr and Jay is the villain.

But if NBC had confidence in O’Brien, they would have capitulated at that point, left him in the 11:35 slot and started negotiations with Leno to release him from his contract. The network had the option at that point of who they wanted to keep and who they wanted to let go. They made the decision that, rightly or wrongly, Leno was the one they needed to keep.

So should Leno have turned down their offer to return to the Tonight Show? A lot of people seem to think that he should have. By why would he? This was now a business decision, both on NBC’s and Leno’s part.

Leno gets to return as the host of the highly desirable Tonight Show franchise and he gets to keep his long time staff employed. Should he have walked away from the offer in some kind of high moral dudgeon? He could have done that, especially with how he had been jerked around by the network brass, being moved from his job while he was leading the field in the ratings and then being put into a high risk time slot with only 4 months, as it turned out, to make the show work.

But I think that Leno recognized that there was no logic in doing that. He would have put his staff on the unemployment rolls and for what? Would NBC have kept Conan anyway? Maybe and maybe not. Or would the Tonight Show franchise have simply crashed and burned? I think he made the only decision that made sense for him.

The question now will be whether he can return the show to its former glory. NBC has done him no favours by giving him back the chair. If he takes it back to #1 he will be a hero, but if he can’t bring the ratings back up he will be chewed up and spit out by the critics – which in this case is a good chunk of the North American viewing public. He has a major job ahead of him and I am sure that he knows that all too well.

But for all of those noble people out there who think that Leno should have gotten on his high horse and ridden off into the twilight, is that what you would do if you were offered your dream job at the miserable sum of $30 million a year?

Yeah, sure. Get a life.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.