Monday night was the third time that I have heard a sneaky plug for In-N-Out Burger in only about six episodes that I have watched of the new L.A. area-based “The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien.” When I heard this burger blurt come up in conversation for the first time a couple of weeks ago, with a guest (Tom Hanks, I think) advising Conan on where to find great burgers in L.A., it sounded genuine. When, a few days later, I heard it for the second time in the exact same context with a different guest, I began to have suspicions. Then, on Monday night, my suspicions seem to have been confirmed.
With two wise-ass, caustic New Yorkers hosting competing late night network talk shows, one of them Conan O’Brien, now in Los Angeles and the new replacement for the middle-of-the-road schtick of Jay Leno, is anyone surprised that viewers are taking a second look at Letterman, if not out of blanching at O’Brien’s bizarre humor (and looks,) then maybe out of familiarity with Dave?
From LA Weekly’s Nikki Finke, who may regard herself an avenging angel of the right if her flailing rants against NBCU’s Jeff Zucker that dovetail neatly with Bill O’Reilly’s are any indication, to LA Observed’s blunt disgorging of the LA Times‘ and Variety’s lengthier analyses of a mere seven days worth of ratings for Conan and Dave, you would think something truly important is happening here with the former’s nosediving as the latter’s ascend.
But this is a town that follows Nielsen ratings like a hedge fund manager follows the commodities markets. Everyday brings drama and rash assessments, if not the financial equivalent of blood sport.
Conan’s ballyhooed move to Los Angeles is still a hot ticket here in his new city, at least according to my NBCU sources who still haven’t been able to get me passes to one of his tapings. By contrast, Leno tickets were always a breeze to secure and landed me in the air-conditioned “special guests” holding room, not waiting out on the Burbank sidewalk with the hoi polloi. (This always garnered big points for me with out-of-town visitors.)
While a fan of both Conan and Dave for the doses of NYC sensibility that they provide to an ex-New Yorker now living in LA, I also like Cash Cab on the Discovery Channel for the same reason. It’s a game show that takes place in a taxi cab cruising the streets of Manhattan.
I can’t imagine it being entertaining, let alone interesting for anyone who hasn’t lived there, but one thing I’m sure of: Wouldn’t work here; although I’ve considered pitching an idea I have for a new reality show based in Los Angeles. It’s called, “Help! I’m a Paparazzi-in-training!”
But even if it came to be, I’d still stick with Conan and Dave. And Cash Cab.
Being an expatriate New Yorker, when I heard Conan O’Brien was having a hard time wrapping his brain around moving from New York to Los Angeles, I could relate. I had the same experience six years ago, although I did not bring my late night TV talk show with me.
Fortunately, last night during the first installment of his new show (The Tonight Show, vacated last week by Jay Leno in case you’ve been living in a cave) from his new studio (on the Universal lot instead of NBC Studios in Burbank) in his new city, it was the same insane and strange Conan.
In an earlier time slot then his previous show and in a tamer town, the presumption is he may have to tone it down for a more mainstream audience. Last night that didn’t appear to be the case, although he seemed to be on his best behavior and he signaled as much, either intentionally or not, with a few nervous seconds here and there.
Filled with barbed humor and seemingly drug-induced antics, the show began with a hilarious opening montage of him wearing a suit as he, literally, ran (and swam) across the country; through New Jersey, Chicago, St. Louis, Midwest farmland, the Rockie Mountains, Las Vegas (with a brief, bizarre rest stop at a Victorian doll museum) and into LA to get to his new workplace.
Another bit of a lunacy had him riding the tourist-filled Universal Studios tram out into the surrounding streets of Universal City, heckling passers-by and gleefully snarling traffic.
“Red is a girl’s color! Don’t buy it!” he screeched at a guy checking out a crimson vehicle at a car dealer.
In the land of cars, he may be asking for trouble. (Watch the opening clip here.)
That Conan O’Brien will soon relocate from New York City to Los Angeles to take over Jay Leno’s chair on The Tonight Show would, in itself, be an interesting subject for Los Angeles Metblogs. But last night, Conan, with guest Alec Baldwin, also touched on a Metbloggy sore point subject by raising the N.Y.C. vs. L.A. comparison. The discussion takes place in part 1 of the video (h/t to The Huffington Post).
O’Brien and Baldwin are the perfect pair to discuss the New York City/Los Angeles comparison. While O’Brien is on his way from N.Y.C. to L.A., Baldwin, who grew up in New York and has spent much of his adult life making movies in Los Angeles, is now back in New York working on the “30 Rock” television program.
If you watch to the end of part 2, you’ll get another East Coast/West Coast bonus, straight from New Jersey.