Is The Daily Show The Real Inheritor Of The Tonight Show Legacy?

Is it possible Stewart and The Daily Show are the real inheritors of Tonight Show legacy and not the Jay Leno Tonight Show?

I am too young (a phrase seldom applicable to me nowadays) to remember Steve Allen’s version of the Tonight Show. I’ve seen clips/airchecks. Always surprising, groundreaking and topical it was a great show. I was thinking about that last night as I watched Jon Stewart.

Is it possible Stewart and The Daily Show are the real inheritors of Tonight Show legacy and not the Jay Leno Tonight Show?

Stewart doesn’t usually have musical guests. It’s not a variety show. However, he does have a cast of regulars and like Allen’s crew they are writer/performers. That’s the most memorable artifact from Allen’s show… Stewart’s too.

Tonight introduced a slew comedic talent of the sixties (Don Knotts, Louis Nye, Bill Dana, Tom Poston and Pat Harrington). The Daily Show does the same thing today (Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell, Rob Corddry, Ed Helms, Rob Riggle, John Hodgman, Wyatt Cenac).

Is there anyone reading this who watches Stewart and remembers Steve Allen’s Tonight Show? Am I right?

If Maury ran the DNA would Steve Allen be the ‘baby daddy’ for The Daily Show?

My Least Favorite TV Commercial

It’s not just that the jokes aren’t funny (they’re not), it’s that every single piece of this pie is contrived and forced! These are “frankenbites” at their worst!

coors light screengrab.jpgWhy bury the lede. I dislike… no, I actually hate the Coors Light commercials featuring real NFL coaches from real press conferences and game situations quizzed by scripted twenty somethings. I know someone thought this would be comedic gold. Bzzzzz. Wrong.

It’s not just that the jokes aren’t funny (they’re not), it’s that every single piece of this pie is contrived and forced! These are “frankenbites” at their worst!

This concept worked in the past. I remember Steve Allen on his Sunday night show ‘interviewing’ actors on the scene of their latest movie. In those pre-satellite days Allen was in the studio while the actors appeared on film. He’d do the interview straight first, then with reworked questions.

Coors Light is not Steve Allen. Case closed.

Annoying Ads On Football

If you watch a lot of football, and we do, you see a lot of the same ads repeated… and repeated again.

Helaine likes the animals singing along with Andy Kim’s Rock Me Gently. I like the NFL merchandise spot where players deliver ‘swag,’ like Adam Vinatieri kicking a grill long distance to a fan.

We like anything with Peyton Manning, especially his “pep talks.” Helaine just rewound the DVR to see MasterCard was the sponsor. Oops. I’d work on that brand recognition boys.

We’re disappointed by Southwest Airlines’ new business oriented spots. We like Southwest as they were, people oriented.

Mostly, I’m bugged by the Coors Light ads. You know the ones. Twentysomething guys infiltrate NFL post-game press conferences. Using actual coaches responses, the script inserts new questions.

This bit was pretty funny when Steve Allen did it in the early 60s&#185. It is not funny now.

Good writing is incredibly valuable. These are terribly written. There is no subtlety, no nuance. The match between question and answer is often tenuous. The whole thing is just forced.

There is one unforeseen problem with my distaste for these spots. I can’t turn away! Helaine was first to notice, as soon as the commercial came on TV I’d snap my neck in that direction.

Maybe I shouldn’t let Coors know.

&#185 – I remember Allen using this on his Sunday evening show. He would play back studio supplied, filmed interviews with movie stars on location. First he’d do the interview straight. Then he’d do it again, with new questions.

Steve Allen invented most of what’s on TV and everything that’s on late night.

Don Knotts

Word came out Saturday Don Knotts had died. Knotts has been a visible entertainment fixture for my entire life.

There will be TV sound bites and newspaper (and Internet) obituaries written. That’s not why I’ve started this entry. I want to mention his passing because Don Knotts’ career serves as an age benchmark.

Here’s how it works:

If you remember Don Knotts from Steve Allen’s Show, you are older than me. Thank heavens someone is!

If Don Knotts is Barney Fife to you, you’re a baby boomer – somewhere between 40 and 60. I’m not sure how Don and Andy got together, though they appeared earlier in the movie “No Time For Sergeants” (Knotts as a very tightly wound dexterity tester).

Three’s Company has been off the air over 20 years. If you’re in your 30s or 40s, Don Knotts is Mr. Furley, Norman Fell’s replacement.

There are a few other actors who can be used to predict your age, like Ann B. Davis. Is she Alice from the Brady Bunch or Schultzy from Love That Bob? The answer is telling.

Lots of actors complain about being typecast. I would hope Don Knotts was happy with the persona he portrayed on TV and in the movies. The International Movie Database shows him being in over 70 named shows and movies, mostly as that bumbling, nerdy, nervous little guy.

His early work with Steve Allen showed what was to come. On a show filled with over-the-top characters (including Louis Nye, Tom Poston, Dayton Allen and Bill “Jose Jimenez” Dana), the quivering Knotts was incredibly memorable.

I saw him within the past few years on Nickelodeon. I was pleased to see he looked good and seemed sharp.

I am saddened he is gone. Considering his body of work, he’ll never really be out of sight.

Leno, Conan and the Tonight Show

Forget about the Tonight Show being an NBC tradition. Forget about Johnny and Steve Allen and everyone who has had their career launched there. For a moment, think of the Tonight Show as what it is for NBC, an incredible cash cow.

I have read many estimates of NBC’s profit from the Tonight Show. The prevailing wisdom is somewhere between $75-100,000,000 per year. That’s an unbelievable number, probably the most profitable program NBC runs – possibly more profitable than prime time.

That’s why today’s announcement concerning the Tonight Show is so strange. NBC consistently beats CBS in late night, yet in five years, Conan O’Brien will replace Jay Leno as the Tonight Show’s host.

I can’t think of an announcement NBC could have made that would be more surprising.

It just seems out of character that Jay Leno, a workaholic, devoted to performing, would do this on his own. It’s possible Conan put pressure on NBC – after all the CBS late night show is searching for a host and they don’t want to lose him. But how could NBC ask Jay to go?

None of it makes any sense to me. But now we have five years of hearing the ‘inside story’ and allowing egos to build and possibly boil over.