On Monday night (January 18), Jay Leno took a few minutes out of one of the final episodes of “The Jay Leno Show” to address his side of the story in the current late night war between himself, NBC and “The Tonight Show” host Conan O’Brien. “Don’t blame Conan,” he told the audience, and based on sentiment among fans and other talk show hosts, everybody is letting O’Brien off the hook for this one (even though NBC executives are taking the gloves off about the ongoing negotiations regarding Conan’s severance).
Tuesday night’s late-night shows were highlighted by another great O’Brien anti-NBC monologue and a second fantastically candid attack care of David Letterman. “Every day I wake up and say I’m going to keep my mouth shut,” the host said. “I’ve known Jay for 35 years, and what we’re seeing now is vintage Jay, and it’s enjoyable for me to see this. Lord knows I’ve got my own problems, but I just can’t help myself.” Though Letterman said that he doesn’t have “a dog in this fight,” he utterly eviscerated Leno’s “State of the Network Speech” from Monday night. “I know a lot of you think that Conan pushed himself out of a job, but he’s not that kind of guy,” Letterman said. “So please, don’t blame Conan. In the thousands of words that have been printed about this mess, who has blamed Conan? No one!”
Letterman wasn’t through. He launched into his Leno impression, talked again about the fiasco he went through during his exit from NBC after he didn’t get the hosting gig on “The Tonight Show” and encouraged Conan to “walk across the street and make NBC eat their words.”
Meanwhile, the gloves are totally off on “The Tonight Show.” What started as O’Brien’s good-natured ribbing has evolved into a savage bashing of NBC. “I’m Conan O’Brien, and I’m three days away from the biggest drinking binge in history,” he joked at the top of his show. He spent the next five minutes throwing haymakers, even spending a portion of the monologue calling the executives running NBC “brainless sons of goats who eat money and crap trouble” in Spanish. The story permeated the rest of the show, as O’Brien asked guest Quentin Tarantino for career advice and brought out Norm MacDonald to joke about getting ousted after seven months.
Not one to take anything lying down, Leno also got in jabs at both O’Brien and Letterman during his own show. During his interview with Chelsea Handler, he went to re-create a scene from her book with her, joking “I got this idea from Letterman.” Later in the show, Leno searched for “infidelity,” “Viagra” and “AARP” on Bing and came up with a photo of Letterman. (He also teased that he was taking a shot at O’Brien by searching for “red hair,” “overrated” and “millionaire,” but a photo of Carrot Top came up instead.)
Finally, Jimmy Kimmel tried to summon the ghost of Johnny Carson to get his opinion on this whole fiasco, but some wires got crossed and he got Carson Daly instead. “This doesn’t even make sense — you’re not even dead,” Kimmel told Daly.
“I’m on at three o’clock in the morning — I might as well be dead,” Daly replied.