Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Say G'night, Danny

The big news in Pop Culture this week is news
Tonight, Dan Rather slinks off into the sunset, ending his quarter century at what was once the most prestigious job in American journalism not with a bang but an "eh."
The question one is left to ponder is: What next for "Captain Courage"? He had announced plans to continue as a reporter on 60 Minutes 2, but it looks like that lame duck is about to be strangled any moment now. Is there nothing left for Dan now but to retreat to a cave in New Mexico to ponder the question that has plagued him, and all America, for nearly two decades now: "Kenneth, what is the frequency?"
Maybe not, for as I pondered this on Sunday, I saw a clip of Dan's most recent Late Show with David Letterman appearance on CNN's Reliable Sources and thought of all the memorable appearances Rather has made on Dave's show, including singing What's The Frequency, Kenneth with REM, and it hit me. Maybe Dave needs a new sidekick. Sure, he has Paul, but his idol, Johnny Carson, had not only Ed but Doc, as well. Yes, there just might be a future for Dan in laughing at all of Dave's jokes and agreeing with everything he says.
But, then again, Dan's never been the type to play 2nd fiddle to anyone, and if he were going to throw his hat into the late night ring, he'd want nothing less than his own show. And it just so happens that over at NBC, there's going to be a vancancy at 12:30 next year. Jay Leno has announced that he will be stepping down and handing the Tonight Show over to Conan O'Brien and God Help Us All.
I had actually thought of suggesting myself for the Late Night gig. After all, I have as much (heck, maybe more) on air television experience as O'Brien did when he got the gig.
One final thought on Conan's "promotion": In The Late Shift, Bill Carter's book on the drama surrounding Carson's retirement, Leno's ascension to his job, and Letterman's defection to CBS, Carter says that one of the reasons that NBC did not offer Letterman the Tonight gig is that they weren't sure if he was suited to doing an 11:30 show, which attracts an older audience than was tuning in for his 12:30 gig. Apparently, they have no such worries about Conan, and that surprises me, because his show is, in many ways, far more off-kilter than Dave's ever was.

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