MEDIA: Conan Vs. The Barbarians

UPDATE: Hours after releasing a statement that he will not do “The Tonight Show” if his new airtime is 12:05 a.m., late night comedian Conan O’Brienconan.jpg took to the airwaves pulling no punches. After receiving more applause than usual, O’Brien urged his fans to settle down, quipping that “I may not have that much time.” His employer, NBC, had planned to unceremoniously oust the host from his 11:35 p.m. ET time slot come February to make room for a Jay Leno program. “My name is Conan O’Brien and I may soon be available for children’s parties,” he announced. He then reminisced about watching the “Tonight Show” as a child. “I remember watching Johnny Carson and thinking, someday I’m going to host that show for seven months,” he said. MORE

NEW YORK TIMES: Conan O’Brien released a statement Tuesday saying that he no longer wanted to be the host of “The Tonight Show” on NBC if it appeared at 12:05 a.m. Mr. O’Brien’s brief run as host at 11:35 p.m. is to be cut short next month, as NBC decided to restore his predecessor, Jay Leno, to that time period. Mr. O’Brien has been growing increasingly upset in recent days about how he believes he was treated by NBC’s management. A representative for Mr. O’Brien said Tuesday that the issue came to a head for the host on Monday and that he had “sat up all night drafting the statement.” NBC, whose “Tonight Show” has been broadcast at 11:35 p.m. for decades, declined to comment. Mr. O’Brien was scheduled to do “The Tonight Show” on Tuesday night. In a statement Tuesday afternoon, Mr. O’Brien said, “I sincerely believe that delaying the ‘Tonight Show’ into the next day to accommodate another comedy program will seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting. ‘The Tonight Show’ at 12:05 simply isn’t the ‘Tonight Show.’” MORE

CONAN O’BRIEN: Six years ago, I signed a contract with NBC to take over “The Tonight Show” in June of 2009. Like a lot of us, I grew up watching Johnny Carson every night and the chance to one day sit in that chair has meant everything to me. I worked long and hard to get that opportunity, passed up far more lucrative offers, and since 2004, I have spent literally hundreds of hours thinking of ways to extend the franchise long into the future. It was my mistaken belief that, like my predecessor, I would have the benefit of some time and, just as important, some degree of ratings support from the prime-time schedule. Building a lasting audience at 11:30 is impossible without both. But sadly, we were never given that chance. After only seven months, with my “Tonight Show” in its infancy, NBC has decided to react to their terrible difficulties in prime time by making a change in their long-established late night schedule. Last Thursday, NBC executives told me they intended to move the “Tonight Show” to 12:05 to accommodate the “Jay Leno Show” at 11:35. For 60 years, the “Tonight Show” has aired immediately following the late local news. I sincerely believe that delaying the “Tonight conan.gifShow” into the next day to accommodate another comedy program will seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting. The “Tonight Show” at 12:05 simply isn’t the “Tonight Show.” Also, if I accept this move I will be knocking the “Late Night” show, which I inherited from David Letterman and passed on to Jimmy Fallon, out of its long-held time slot. That would hurt the other NBC franchise that I love, and it would be unfair to Jimmy. MORE

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Conan O’Brien’s statement to the “people of Earth” about his thoughts on being asked to move “The Tonight Show” to 12:05 a.m. so NBC can put Jay Leno back at 11:35 p.m. was not a negotiating ploy. “This came from the heart,” said Gavin Polone, the veteran producer and manager who is responding to calls about O’Brien’s missive, in which the host wrote NBC has not given him a chance to establish himself at “The Tonight Show” and that he is the victim of the network’s prime-time woes. “It’s him expressing his feelings; there is nothing else behind it,” Polone said, adding, “it’s not about strategy and contracts.” That won’t stop people from reading O’Brien’s statement to NBC as him saying he won’t quit “The Tonight Show” but he won’t play ball if it moves to 12:05 a.m., either of which would force NBC into firing him. NBC is declining to comment on his statement. MORE

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billy-o.jpgTIMES OF LONDON:  With friends like Bill O’Reilly, host of The O’Reilly Factor on Fox News, who needs enemies? Not Sarah Palin, that’s for sure. When the former Governor of Alaska made her debut appearance as a ‘news analyst’ on last night’s edition of O’Reilly’s massively popular right-wing show, it was hard to avoid the impression that the red, white and blue studio wasn’t quite big enough for two American Patriots. “You know, governor, the perception of you is that you’re not that smart?” was perhaps the most telling of O’Reilly’s we-can-be-blunt-because-we’re-friends questions. It came shortly after he showed his new colleague a montage of video clips in which rival pundits almost wept with mirth at her appointment (in one, Chris Matthews of MSNBC screamed, “How can she be a pundit, SHE DOESN’T KNOW ANYTHING!”). Of course, this is what Fox – owned by News Corporation, parent company of The Times – excels at doing: presenting itself as the lone voice of common sense, under a ceaseless and vicious assault from the Mainstream Media (populated exclusively by the Lunatic Left). MORE

WASHINGTON POST: On one hand, this is a great platform, and great timing, to keep herself in front of voters for her inevitable run for president in 2012 (which will start more or less in earnest in about 12 months–at which point Palin will have to give up the gig). But it all depends on how much exposure Palin can actually stand, and in what kind of context she appears. As she proved in her disastrous interviews with Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric during the 2008 campaign, Palin can be a master of her own self-destruction. I am sure her media handlers are telling her to palintonguecropped_1.jpgavoid the kinds of shouting-head confrontations on FNC that can only make her look shrill, angry, unprepared and very un-presidential. Her best bet is to pronounce and get out of the way. No debates with policy wonks, no back-and-forth on the split screen with professional liberals. Being a “special” commentator (rather than a mere panel pundit) will also help her duck questions like those raised in Mark Halperin and John Heilemann’s much-buzzed about new book, “Game Change.” As H&H write of Palin in this week’s Time magazine: “The real Palin behind her public persona…is often startling and sometimes shocking. The scantness of the vetting she received before being placed on the Republican ticket. Her substantive deficiencies, even more dramatic than those that had previously been reported: her lack of understanding about why there are two Koreas, her ignorance about the function of the Federal Reserve, her belief that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11. The fact that, at her lowest moments during preparation for her debate against Joe Biden, some senior McCain aides worried that she was mentally unstable. And, ultimately, their fears that she wasn’t up to the job of being Vice President. “Adding to the picture are the revelations that [former McCain campaign aide Steve] Schmidt brought forward on “60 Minutes” – in particular, her habitual shading of the truth in ways that exposed the campaign to extreme political vulnerability. “You know, it [was] the equivalent of saying down is up and up is down,” Schmidt told Anderson Cooper on the program. “[She routinely said things] that were provably, demonstrably untrue.” MORE

POLITICO: In her debut as a contributor to Fox News Tuesday, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin admitted that leading up to her 2008 vice presidential debate, she thought Iraq may have been behind the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 MORE

simon-cowell-caricature.jpgLOS ANGELES TIMES: Instead of waxing poetic about how Simon introduced a new generation to the stereotype of the fussy Brit, or listing the five most ridiculous metaphors he used to describe bad singing, or basking in the glow of his whitened teeth, let’s talk about something serious. The fact is, Cowell helped change the way Americans think about popular music. Embodying the role of the music snob while voicing opinions distinctly different from what that character usually expresses, he helped make room for a wider vision of what great American music can be. Or a degraded one. For many serious music fans, “Idol” has long represented the triumph of puffery and schmaltz over sincerity and real skill. The show’s run has coincided with the collapse of the conventional music industry, the retreat of “meaningful” mainstream rock and the rise of the multi-platform pop star — an era in which the musicians making the greatest splash are neither dazzling virtuosos nor rough-hewn poets carrying forth three chords and the truth, but the thinking showgirls of dance pop and the self-made androids of the Auto-Tune revolution. It’s also been a good decade for divas, the soaring sentimentalists long scorned (and even feared) by rock purists. Onto this shifting stage came Cowell, who walked and talked — or rather, sat and furrowed his brow and snarkily quipped — like a rock snob while expressing exactly the opposite worldview. Here was the very cliche of the arts critic: a stuffy, middle-aged man, somewhat humorless and very sure of himself, who wore his superior opinions like gilt secret society pins affixed to his chest. Simon knows better than you: That’s one key premise of “American Idol.”

24 FRAMES: There’s been a lot of speculation about who might replace Tobey Maguire as the new Spider-Man (Joseph Gordon-Levitt seems like a spiderman_2_film_poster_peter_parker_tobey_maguire.jpgno-brainer). But almost as interesting a question is what happens to the man who’s been playing him. After all, Sam Raimi will go back to, one can assume (read: hope), the horror/suspense movies of earlier in his career (the rightly lauded “A Simple Plan” and the underrated “The Gift,” to name two). (At least we’re hoping he does; it’s likely he takes on the bigger-budget video-game adaptation “Warcraft” first.) But Maguire is a trickier question. He’s been associated with — and in some ways tethered to — the “Spider-Man” franchise for nearly a decade, and the scrapping of the superhero character opens up a new outlet of possibilities. The actor recently wrapped production on an indie dark comedy called “The Details.” And, of course, he can be seen this awards season in the (tepidly reviewed) war movie “Brothers.” With his involvement in “Spider-Man” done for, does he continue in a more specialized direction or go back to the blockbuster? There’s certainly no shortage of big vehicles he can sign on for. A while back, Sony was working on a sci-fi effects-fest called “Worlds,” based on the art-heavy bestselling book by Alec Gillis, that was being developed with Maguire in mind. And then there have been rumors of the sci-fi epic “Robotech” and the Guillermo del Toro “The Hobbit.” Both of which would create Spidey-level fandom — but, also, Spidey-level time commitments … and not nearly as much character nuance. MORE

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