It's all out war on late night TV, and now it's getting personal!
A clearly enraged Conan O'Brien wasted no time taking direct aim at Jay Leno, saying, "Hosting The Tonight Show has been the fulfillment of a life long dream for me. And I just want to say to the kids out there watching, you can do anything you want in life, unless Jay Leno wants to do it too."
Conan, who is refusing to go along with NBC's plan to move The Tonight Show to midnight to make room for Leno, who also continued his on-air tirades against his own network.
"I just heard this. NBC executives making some changes to the Olympics. Replace the flags on the giant slalom course with breached NBC contracts. Reserve the right to cancel ski jumps mid jump."
J. Max Robbins of the Paley Center for Media says, "The language is heating up on late night. Conan is taking the gloves off."
But it's not just a one-sided fight. NBC's President and CEO Jeff Zucker is said to be threatening to "ice" Conan. Reportedly telling the funny man, I"ll keep you off the air for 3 1/2 years." That's the remainder of Conan's contract.
David Letterman, who had his own famous feud with Leno and NBC back in the early nineties, joined in spending most of his show blasting the late night battle royale.
Letterman said to his audience, "Isn't it cold outside? They say at the weather bureau it's caused by an arctic chill between Jay and Conan."
He was particularly rough on Jeff Zucker, saying, "Idiot behind this mess, Jeff Zucker."
Letterman's Top 10 list was Top 10 messagaes left on Jeff Zucker's cell phone, starting with,
#10. "What the hell are you doing?"
#9. "Hi, this is Jay Leno. Conan seemed upset in the elevator. Everything okay?"
For his part, Leno seems to be fed up with the attacks at his expense.
"Conan O'Brien understandably very upset. Conan said NBC had only given him 7 months to make his show work. When I read that...how'd he get that deal? We only got 4."
Jay Leno is being portrayed as the villain in The Tonight Show mess, but some insiders say that's not fair, and that there's enough blame to go around, from NBC executives, to the failure of both Leno and O'Brien to get the ratings they both needed to make their shows successful.
NBC looked at this. Conan was getting beat by Letterman for whatever reason. Jay wasn't working at 10 when Jay was at The Tonight Show he was number 1, they said 'Hey, we made a mistake lets see if we can make lemonade out of this lemon.' "