Conan O'Brien on '60 Minutes': a TBS tune-up
Conan O'Brien, appeared on television Sunday night for the first time since his abrupt departure from NBC's 'Tonight Show.' Cultural buzz, not ratings, will fuel his success, observers say.
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This split between what some perceive as “hip” or “cool” extends beyond the late-night comedy stage, says Barry Katz, president of talent management at New Wave Entertainment. “Take a look at the top-rated sitcoms on TV,” he says, a list that includes such current and recent highly conventional sitcoms such as “Two and a Half men,” “Yes, Dear,” and “King of Queens.” Their healthy ratings, ranging anywhere from 10 to 14 million viewers, completely overshadow shows such as “The Office,” “30 Rock,” and “Arrested Development.”Skip to next paragraph
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The latter three were the darlings of critics, he notes, though they routinely languish in the ratings.
“Critics rally around these niche shows and make them hot,” he says, often for good reason: The shows push the creative boundaries and usher in new ideas and styles. But, Mr. Katz adds, “America decides what it likes and frequently, that doesn’t click with what the insider media writing about these shows says is hip or cool,” noting that the entertainment industry is built on ratings.
As O’Brien noted in his “60 Minutes” interview, he is willing to risk his career to gain a chance to be creative – a stance his current 40-city stage tour amply demonstrates. "Conan is the former head of the [Harvard] Lampoon,” Mark Stevens, CEO of global marketing firm MSCO, writes in an email. “He wants to be Important more than he wants to be rich. He is the standard bearer for that vaunted position now. And he will play to it to the hilt," Mr. Stevens says, adding, "and then he'll sell out and make a superhero summer blockbuster."
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