Jay Leno has taken A LOT of flack from the late-night community for muscling his way back into The Tonight Show and thereby thoroughly screwing Conan O’Brien. Pretty much the only place he hasn’t been lambasted is The Jay Leno Show…until last night, that is. On Thursday, Leno ill-advisedly decided to interview his ABC counterpart Jimmy Kimmel (who recently did a biting show-long impersonation of him on Jimmy Kimmel Live!) in his “10 at 10″ segment. As you might expect, things got ugly. Armed with nothing but his standard list of softball questions, the once and future Tonight Show host was effectively KO’ed on his feet.
I can understand Leno’s reasons for doing it; he wanted to show that he wasn’t hiding from his critics, maybe exact some modicum of revenge (but, you know, in a safe way that wouldn’t offend anybody). And he thought he’d have the advantage, or at least that things couldn’t get too out-of-hand, given that it was his show and Kimmel would be on the hotseat. Unfortunately for Jay, that really wasn’t the case. Kimmel came to throw down and he unquestionably got the best of every exchange, consistently landing comedic blows on his clearly uncomfortable inquisitor even when the line of questioning turned away from the late-night debacle. At the beginning, it’s satisfying to see him squirm. But, by the end, after watching Jay awkwardly try to deflect the barbs for 5 minutes, you’ll probably just want it to end.
Hit the jump to see Leno get his ass handed to him and to hear what the newly minted Conan cult “I’m with Coco” is doing to voice their displeasure.
Grabbing the baton from Kimmel, the O’Brien faithful will unite this Monday to stick it to Jay Leno and hopefully, in the words of MAD TV alum Will Sasso (as Steven Seagal), “knock that chin back where it belongs.” The fans are planning a rally for Conan, which is set to take place on the sidewalk outside Gate 2 of the Universal Studios lot from 12pm-4pm. The rally is the brainchild of the “I’m with Coco” movement, which came together earlier in the week and now has over 180, 000 followers on Facebook; you may have come across their emblem, created by LA artist Mike Mitchell, on the Internet in the past few days. Currently, around 1000 supporters are committed to attend the demonstration. If you decide to go, organizers encourage fans “to wear orange wigs, dress like their favorite Late Night characters and create signage.” You can take a look at the invitation below.
Encouragingly, even those not officially “with Coco” have been showing their support. THR reports that, over the last three nights, as O’Brien’s time at NBC seemingly draws to a close, his ratings have climbed significantly, while Leno’s have dropped. From THR’s Live Feed: “On Thursday night O’Brien drew a 1.9 in the adult demo — nearly double his usual average. That’s 27% higher number at 11:35 p.m. than Jay Leno, who drew a 1.5 using the same type of measurement, earned at 10 p.m.” Though, as the article notes, Conan’s bump is likely a result of the increased publicity surrounding this debacle.
Ultimately, chances are slim that any of this will have a meaningful impact on the situation. But when your grandchildren ask you what you did when Jay Leno laid siege to The Tonight Show back in ought 10, you want to be able to tell them that you fought the good fight…that you did not go quietly into that mediocre-at-best late-night. So steel your resolve with thoughts of The Interrupter and The Walker Texas Ranger Wheel, strap on those red-hair helmets, and take your place at the front. Coneheads unite!
Here’s the “I’m with Coco” invite:
Fans of late night talk show host Conan O’Brien will be organizing a rally to show their support for the legendary comedian and his current “situation.”
The genesis of the rally began with the now-iconic image (pictured) by LA-based artist Mike Mitchell, which earlier in the week coined the slogan for the movement, “I’m with Coco.” In only 48 hours, the “I’m with Coco” Facebook fan group has amassed more than 180,000 supporters and grows by the second.
The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien staff has pledged their support, and as of the drafting of this media alert, over 1,000 fans are committed to attend, with many, many more expected.
SPECIAL REQUEST – As this is merely an insignificant pop culture event when compared to major world catastrophes as of late, the Red Cross will be on hand to collect donations for Haitian relief. We would like to use this opportunity to leverage coverage of this rally primarily for the benefit of those that have lost their homes, family and friends to the tragedy in Haiti. This is a rare chance to use a pop culture happening to benefit the greater good.
When: Monday, Jan. 18, 2009
12pm to 4pm (RAIN or SHINE)
Where: Sidewalk in front of Gate 2
Universal Studios lot
100 Universal Plaza Dr. (off of Lankershim)
Universal City, CA 91608
- More than 1,000 fans confirmed, with many more anticipated
- Fans are encouraged to wear orange wigs, dress like their favorite Late Night characters and create signage
- A limited number of posters, signs and t-shirts will be made available featuring the “I’m with Coco” image