Late-Night Hosts Gang Up to Pummel NBC

If NBC was hoping to brush the whole Conan/Leno debacle under the table, they should get ready for a long, hard ride if last night’s late-night assault on the Peacock network was any indication. Conan reamed NBC for essentially pushing him out, Jay alluded to it but mostly avoided Conan’s situation, and other network hosts chimed in as well. After the jump, a breakdown of all the ‘Tonight’-gate commentary on Tuesday.
Conan’s Colossal Day

Hours after releasing a statement saying that he had no interest in manning ‘The Tonight Show’ if it was bumped to 12:05 am — marking perhaps the biggest middle-finger letter from employer to boss we’ve ever seen — Conan didn’t hold back during his Tuesday monologue. He joked: “I’ve been giving the situation a lot of thought. When I was a little boy, I remember watching ‘The Tonight Show’ with Johnny Carson and thinking ‘One day, I’m going to host that show for seven months.'”

Perhaps the biggest NBC barb was when Conan said of the current situation: “NBC said they were planning on having the late-night situation figured out before the Olympics start. And let me tell you something, when NBC says something, you can take that to the bank.”

As the one that many are considering the person who was the most royally screwed during this whole ordeal, Conan fans had reason to celebrate. He ripped the network that is pushing him out while still showing a good deal of tact and classiness for not totally freaking out.

Jay Jokes, But Ignores Conan

Aside from a joke or two about the overall hairiness of the situation he’s at the epicenter of, Leno stopped short of directly addressing Conan’s statement released earlier on Tuesday. Instead, he focused on smaller barbs towards NBC, saying: “The folks here at NBC, they don’t handle these things well. They don’t have a lot of tact. After they canceled the show, they told me if I gained 10 pounds I could join ‘The Biggest Loser.'”

Perhaps in job preservation mode at this point (PopEater’s Rob Shuter reports Leno may be out at NBC as well), Leno avoided any him-versus-Conan taunts.

Dave Doesn’t Hold Back

David Letterman has never been one to bite his tongue. By far the most ornery late-night host, the NBC mess is a dream come true for Letterman, who still has an axe to grind with his former network and Leno himself.

“You know what this means — that’s right, I knocked off another competitor,” he joked in his monologue, referring to Conan O’Brien’s decision Tuesday to leave NBC if they move ‘The Tonight Show’ to 12:05 a.m. Letterman repeatedly referred to his old and soon-to-be current foe as Jay “Big Jaw” Leno and mocked the “geniuses” at NBC programming who devised his move to prime-time.

Kimmel Gets in Leno’s Shoes … Literally

Over at ABC, consummate prankster and impersonator Jimmy Kimmel used the ‘Tonight’ firestorm to bust out his fantastic Jay Leno impersonation, complete with prop chin (naturally).

Kimmel, as Leno, said in his monologue: “Hello, hello, my name is Jay Leno and let it here by be known that I’m taking over all the shows in late-night,” he quipped, referring to the recent dustup at NBC. He went on to joke that “It’s great to be here on ABC,” he adds. “You know what ABC stands for? Always Bump Conan.”

Another shot was lobbed directly at Leno with the joke: “Conan O’Brien, today, announced that he is leaving NBC. He released a statement today saying ‘I won’t participate in the destruction of ‘The Tonight Show.'” Fortunately, though, I will,” Kimmell says.

Fallon Forgets to Talk About It

A somber looking Jimmy Fallon dodged getting involved in ‘Tonight’-gate entirely, as his place at NBC following all of this drama is still unknown. His first two jokes were about Sarah Palin and ‘Jersey Shore,’ skating around the 800 pound elephant in the NBC offices.

With Conan likely out, there’s no word where Fallon — whose current show begins at 12:35 a.m. after Conan’s ‘Tonight show’ — will land. Whether it was a conscious decision by Fallon to stay out of it or network executives told him to back off is unknown, but one thing is for sure — there was certainly some strange energy going on.

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