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tv   The Story of Late Night  CNN  June 6, 2021 5:00pm-6:00pm PDT

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it was a huge deal. give me "the tonight show" or give jay "the tonight show." >> no one knows what to expect. >> holy moly, i am in broadcasting history now. >> now, people can be who ever they are. >> women are funny, we are not going anywhere.
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>> lady gaga's make over. be authentic. >> authentically -- >> we have a whole world to fix. >> no, don't leave it there. >> why would you leave it there in there is a terrible place to leave it. ♪ we must find terrors where ever it hides. this is a time when the country is grappling with post 9/11 world. >> thank you very much. welcome to "the tonight show." >> i think at this point, jay liking himself to the troop's
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cheerleader. we'll help everyone out there try to take our minds off of they thinks. >> toys r' us announced they may sell their toy devision. so we was toys? we started out doing work completely non political. non-september 11th and you start making jokes about things. there was the taliban. >> things are not looking good for the taliban, today they took a head count and the idea of only half of them had one. >> it is always the middle child that causes the problems. >> leno has the fun, easy going vibe. jay talks like most people talk.
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i think they completely relate to that. his humor was for america. you have jimmy kimmel on at midnight. john stewart presents a real challenge because he's now grabbing viewers. it is not a big audience but it is really young. the guy we think could counter john stewart in an ongoing way is konan.
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>> announcer: from nbc s's studs in new york is conan o'brien. >> everyone i knew in high school or college, we only hear about conan. >> that's a conan o'brien's mask. do you like it? >> no. >> i love all the bits and the masturbating-bear and --ps. >> have you talk to a woman that did not have to give your credit card number. >> i kid and i got to be really excited so i go over to the couch and johnny says, dids you do this? bad dog. no, you ruined the couch.
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i was devastated but i heard the same thing happened. >> someone said to me hey conan describe your comedic philosophy. one is smart and silly. >> conan o'brien's success caused him to get feelers from other networks. it is time for him to move up to the may jors. the first we had was fox. they made a pretty pitch at that time. >> they went to the trouble to kill cows and bring me to fox.
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we are looking at options and nbc came to us figuring they're going to lose him at some point and jay is not going to go forever. the only ways to deep both of these guys at nbc was we eventually will have to promise conan that he'll take over "the tonight show." we knew jay was on top of the world. we offer jay leno an extension of his contract for fife years and the conan o'brien would be made host of "the tonight show." >> this was the ultimate prize. i think conan feeling if i can get to "the tonight show" and keep doing it, why not? steve allen, and of course johnny carson. >> this is the chance to be part of that lineage now and i am
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going to try to live up to this. >> i asked where is jay in all this and what does he think about this and they came to me and said, we don't want to lose conan o'brien. okay, what does it mean? >> laid out this five-year plan to him and i think he understood what we are trying to get at. there was nobody in my time in nabs who was ever more than a team player than jay leno. >> this show is like a dynasty, you hold it and hand it off to the next person. i don't want to see all the fighting or who's better. right now here it is, conan, it is yours, see you in five years! jay congratulated me and it felt nature and friendly. we kept them off competition. we ensure nbc continues to dominate in late night for
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another five years. we knew jay would have had a long run and everyone thought it was a brilliant master stroke.
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people start to question it. not unlike the vietnam era. >> and it gave late night comedy license to really go for the jugular. >> really i have not hear too much of the situation in iraq. what's been going on over there? >> it was not until george w. bush and the post 9/11, period, the daily show became as we understand its. >> yes, you do. >> by really tackling what was going on in government, what we were being told and what we were not being told.
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>> we begin to search for biological weapons and already know hundreds of sites will be investigated. >> want to know how that turned out? >> there was a failure of journalism questioning tgoing into iraq. >> this guy is giving us news we are getting some where else. >> oh way, this is not just silly really making fun of things, he's like real critic. >> john stewart became the voice of sanity and the voice of reason. the daily show put him in the voice of straight man. >> rob cordery has more on the pro protest today. >> at all of them are anarchist.
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>> there were steven colbert and ed helms and samantha bee. >> the bush administration had made reform in one of their main goals. if they had their way, frivolous lawsuits will be a thing of the past. >> i was wondering where you get the balls. >> john was very key on having them all develop. >> out of that comedy central and john stewart, here is an incredible gift. >> i was like what took you so long to get steven. >> open wide baby bird because mama got a big, fat night of crawler truths.
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>> comedy central allowed steven to rethink and imagine what late night comedic talk show could be. >> welcome to colbert's report. a lot to do tonight. >> colbert was played by a character inspired by rio'reill. >> you are not the elites. you are not the country club crowd. i know my country club would never let you in. >> t"the daily show" attempted o expose hypocrisy. steven colbert was hypocrisy. the fact that colbert was able to choose the position of what
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you feel about the topic and use comedy to convey it to you is really, really difficult. >> that brings us to tonight's word. truthiness. >> we are divided with those who think with their heads and those who know with their hearts. >> it was not something he worked on forever. written a couple of hours that day. >> what about iraq? if you think about it, maybe there is a few missing pieces to the rational but does take sudam out feel the right thing? >> if i had to make a moment when late night comedy became a little more than what i call resistance comedy where you are like you are going to know where i stand for this issue. was it the white house's correspondent dinner where steven colbert confronted george
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w. bush. >> i know this man has a 32% approval rating. we know polls are a collection of statistics and reflect what people think in reality. reality has a well-known liberal bias. >> it started with nervous laughter and it ended with crickets. >> you would never see johnny carson do that in front of the president of the united states. he didn't get good reviews for that. this was the power of the internet. a clip of that went up online and that started to get a lot of people who agreed with the political side of what colbert was saying and the comedic guts to do that in front of a president. wow, you can do this and be rewarded for it?
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but, they abc left him on the air and allowed him to find his voice and grow into that a serious condition. >> it took a long time and it was hard to really great bookings of the feirst year. >> you can't do a talk show without anyone to talk to. i would have to spend every afternoon calling around to try to get a guest that night. >> it was funny because we were not necessarily getting the
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greatest guest. >> it just made people on the show laugh. we heard from matt damon and they said keep doing that. we think it is funny. for my 40th birthday, my ex-gir ex-girlfriend, sarah silverman, came up with this idea. >> hey, jimmy, it is me. >> it is the most successful thing we have done on the show. >> i have been thinking about you a lot and i have been needing to tell you something. i am [ bleep ] matt damon. ♪ her bed is on the floor and the towel is by the door. >> that changed everything. i am [ bleep ] matt damon. >> that matt damon video was the
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first late night viral video. we followed it with the i am ef f'ing ben affleck. >> five years in we became a show that people have heard of. >> is someone here [ bleep ] ben affleck? >> ai am. >> celebrities suddenly wanted to be on the show. >> and that was a turning point for the show. people saw it had a kind of outlook that was fresh and funny. [ applause ] >> the dow tumbled more than 500 points. >> if you want specific policies, you can ask me or you can play "stump the candidate" if you wanted to.
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>> the president of the united states is barack obama. [ applause ] >> as the years went on, i would have conversations with jay leno for the five-year plan to conan o'brien to take over "the tonight show." >> i spent the night and i had a horrible dream. i could not breathe, i fell like i was suffocating and i realized oh, conan was holding a pillow over my head. >> five years gone by pretty quickly and we got that moment and we are like -- jay was still doing incredibly well. >> after 17 years, they still have the number one guy. >> jay had the point of view that i should not leave until i start to decline. i felt an obligation to the feedback that i gave my word to conan about "the toinight show." we have two guys who both want "the tonight show" and jay is
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still on top of the world, what do we do? >> we heard abc was offering jay leno the 11:30 spot. >> have you thought about if you want to come over? >> i rather follow an hour of "the tionight show" than night life. >> okay, what are your ideas? >> nbc was not doing well in primetime. we had an idea to sltrip a variety shows across the 10:00 hour. >> one of us asked "which night" and they said "every night,".
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>> monday through friday? >> yes, at 10:00, wait, what? we all just looked at each other like this makes no sense. ♪ you are offering someone a two liter bottle of pepsi before you offer them a two liter bottle of coke and this analogy, i am the coke because i am the better drink. >> when nbc says conan you are going to take over his job. you try to get my job, okay, i will be in the lobby and if you need me. don't hang around. [soft cymbal crash]
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i had a little story i would like to tell you. do you feel like a good story? >> 2009, letterman still making money and getting all the best criticisms but he's always in second place. he came on the air and totally out of the blue starts discussing this blackmail plot.
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>> there is a letter in the package that says "i know you do some terrible, terrible things". >> letterman was famous for his ironic distance. when he says something, you sort of assume that he didn't mean it. >> the creepy stuff was i had sex with women who work for me on the show. now my response to that is yes, i have. the audience at first kind of laughed in a place they should not have laughed because they didn't know what was happening. >> now, why was i funny. >> these were people he could fire or hire that he's admitting on the air that he had sex with. >> it was a real shot and definitely hit the show but he
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survived it. it was evidence of his incredible skill as a speaker and also the connection that he built with his audience over the years. >> i heard a lot of people and i have nobody to blame but myself. >> how did you make it better? >> i am still fixing it. i can't forget that behavior. it is my fault. everybody, it is december 9th, 2008, you heard the big news on nbc. jay leno is moving to 10:00, it could not be better. leno goes on for an hour and conan for another hour and we are wrapping it up. >> when conan got called up to host "the tonight show." >> 12:30 show gets under estimated because they are influential than people think by just a number of people watching because they have the right people watching. >> yes, these are my real shows.
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>> like everybody else when jimmy fallon became a player on "saturday night live." >> here is tonight's top story. my strengths are "saturday night live where i start with impressions. i do impression and i sing and play guitar. >> jimmy fallon was not a stand-up comedian. the one thing that people don't appreciate is how hard it is to do a daily show in late night with you out there all on your own. >> lauren michael's advise was get in front of the camera and get use to the cameras again because you have not done that around. >> everybody, today's episode, the producer wants me to try out my interview skills. before we were on the air, we made short videos behind the scenes that we put behind the internet. to me the internet was what late night was which was experimental. >> they want me to feel if i had
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a bad rep. >> did i do anything crazy? >> confidence going and get your rhythm going with the audience and you feed off that energy. >> yo. >> two-minutes, jimmy. >> thank you, steve. i will come back and get you. >> hi, conan. >> hey, they want your privacy right now but i have not had time to clean out my dressing room. >> will you be taking jay's dressing room when you go to l.a.? >> jay is not leaving. >> when we started, we were a little under the radar because everyone was talking about this conan to leno transition. >> i look back now, we did so many bad ideas and things but it was so much fun. >> we got a little game we are going to try on the first night it is called "lick it or 10". >> if you have a bit that you
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can do more than once, it ises the greatest, that was what "thank you note" was for me. >> thank you, give bags for saying i care enough to put your gift in the slightly fancier bag than the one i bought you in. >> just to add conan o'brien came along and jimmy fallon came along and changed it from what conan o'brien had done. it is so much fun. >> he brought his own unique sense of comedy to the program. that's why it felt so fresh again. >> write jokes, get dressed. checked. >> move to l.a. move to l.a.? >> going to l.a. is exciting. i was nervous. i was really nervous.
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>> it was a different level of st stress. he did this running across the country bit and it was absurd. but, it was an existential moment that there was a drive-in him that everyone him is not fully aware of it. >> i love the first show. >> it was thrilling. >> it is the tonight show with conan o'brien. >> thank you very much, muah! >> at least we know the applause sign works. that's nice. >> will farrel came out, he's my favorite person. he gave me his guitar and they
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all signed it. i just thought, i can't believe i get to do this. good luck, we'll take a break, we'll be right back. >> the first couple weeks of results were promising and surpassed. i think conan was feeling the pressure and who would not? >> conan gets three months the on the air before jay leno gets his primetime show at 10:00 and becomes conan's lead-in again. >> late night television is dependant on lead-in so having jay at 10:00, my hope is that he would do really well. it didn't work out that way. >> jay was incredibly talented but the program did not work. nobody wants to see a late night show at 10:00.
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>> we were branded as the biggest bomb in history of primetime television. >> after only four months, they decided to end that experiment. >> i have been in this business for 30 years, the most difficult conversation that i had in those 30 years was the one where we had to tell conan that we are going to take him out of the 11:30 time slot and move jay back in there. >> i was listening to this and i could not believe it, adults had this idea.
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we have ten questions. question number one. >> it was ten questions, right before the show they sent me the questions and they're not about what i agree to talk about at all. >> you are known for pranks wh what's the best pranks? >> i know i was being bam
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bamboozled. >> hello there, i am conan o'brien. sorry i was a little late, i had a job interview about lady foot locker. i am still on the air and i am doing jokes about nbc. >> it is going to take nbc several years. >> we just bought this using their credit card from the smithsonian institute. >> it was so self-freeing to do that. my writer had never been freer. >> total cost for this bit, $65 million. >> people were calling in angry. >> he's destroying picasso. that punk. >> i could not have been happier.
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>> i think the longer we just sit here, the more uncomfortable tl make jay. >> if you lose a television show, there is a part of you that feels rejected by america. >> and now jay leno. >> thank you very much. good to be home. good to be home. i am jay leno, your host for at least a while. >> when we went back to the 11:30. there was nothing oh yeah about it. it was just march on. here we go.
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>> we are determined to do a great show and prover that we are worthy to be back. >> that was my goal to walk out of there number one again. >> when conan makes the settlement, he was forbidden to do anything for eight months. >> i was forbided. >> nothing in there about social media. so i started this twitter account. and it just blew up. >> we became like folk heroes. >> folk heroes of late night television. >> the base rallied around him and it became this huge
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movement. >> i was trying to figure out what i do next. >> tbs appeared on the scene unexpectedly. so conan and his producer, jeff ross, went over to meet the tbs people. you will get a jump on the network show and all the things cable could provide. >> these guys straightforward, we like you, do whatever you want to do. it was kind of intriguing. >> conan, i think you will find our terms very attractive.
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which shows will you be getting into tonight? how 'bout all of them. netflix. 'cause xfinity gets you really into your shows. when one burns for someone who does not feel the same. daphne, let's switch. from live tv to sports on the go. felix at the finish! you can even watch your dvr from anywhere. okay, that's just showing off. you get all of this on x1. so go on, get really into your shows. you need a breath mint. xfinity. it's a way better way to watch.
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thank you and welcome to my second annual first show. >> at tbs when you check in on conan o'brien, he's still doing great work but it is to a smaller audience. >> i just got this news that we
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are already number one in tbs's key demographic, people who can't afford hbo. >> once you get into cable, people are able to watch what they want. it is not through like a major network. wanda sykes. >> briefly. >> let me be the first on fox not to pick on obama. >> there are tiny opportunity for people of color and they are gone as quickly as they arrived. >> i think if you give wanda sykes the am of resources and having to figure it out. of course, she could figure it out. >> cable gave opportunities to women. >> a lot of times the mistakes we make is we don't think of
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diversity. we think of tokenism. the truth is you have to create genuine content. late night comedy as we know it is a space that's white man. when a woman comes, hey, maybe there is another way to tell this joke. >> i don't know what i am going to say, it just flies out of my mouth. >> you find a situation where sincerity is poaramount. >> the way you look at me, makes me want to cover up my vagina. >> and that's pretty much the way it is going to go when you dive into anything different. >> we need a little bit to hold onto. >> i appreciate that because i look at your body and i think that's a lot of me and i like that. >> as far as being apart of the boys club, i would notice it
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when it is pointed out to me. >> let's talk about sex addiction. >> oh. >> for the longest time i have watched late night. we were spoken to. >> you are looking at the first latino host of late night talk show. >> i was into the huge diversity. >> my puerto rican brother from another mother. >> i mean i interviewed prince. prince didn't do shows. >> let me ask you what all other late night talk shows asking themselves, why? >> this show represents all people. i see all kinds of guests on here. >> there is no question that a fairer sampling of humanity will produce better comedy. >> thank you very much, lady
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gaga for the fun makeover. >> when i started, late night seems to packaged and shiny floors and no mistakes. my goal with this show was to be authentic and authentically weird but so happy. >> i am a positive guy. >> you are. >> you carry the light, man. you really do. >> i never thought being the omnivore gay guy in late night. >> being gay has always been apart of who i am. >> what i realize was i had a lot of moms come see me with their gay sons. i am getting a little emotional now because i never had that.
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>> i still think in a world of audience fragmentation, it is always a critical piece of the nbc brand. >> we have smart bombs and dumb reporters. is that incredible? >> jay dug hilsmself out of the hole. it is amazing because the pie had been cut up so much. >> we did four more years and we come to the end of our run. >> thank you. >> i don't like good-byes. nbc does. >> i don't. >> as sad as it ended, i felt really good walking out of there. >> hey, why don't you go to abc or fox -- >> i didn't know anybody there. these are the people i have ever known. >> we have all been through a lot together and we have grown up together and matured together. it was an emotional moment.
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>> i love jay. he's such a kind person. i never saw jay treat anyone poorly. what i was going to say that he just knew ill do anything to protect him. >> we have been friends for 40 years. he's about to do his last good-bye and i'm siting there and he reached over and grabbed my hand for a second and said i am really glad you are here. that's as emotional as jay gets. in closing, i want to quote johnny carson, he said i bid you all a heartfelt. it really takes the tonight show job, it comes with a gigantic amount of pressure. >> it was really important to me
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and jay to do it the right weigh if it was going to be done. >> jay leno is being replaced and this is the second time that is happening. it is crazy. he's being replaced by a younger late night talk show host, what could go wrong? i will be honest with you, it is beginning to look like i am not going to get "the tonight show." >> there is upheaval in people's lives. >> could you give me like 20 more minutes. >> the internet has changed everything. >> we didn't know what we were doing. and then late night is hit with the biggest challenge ever


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