With Conan O'Brien leaving NBC, say goodbye to the Masturbating Bear and Pimpbot 5000

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Ahh, intellectual property. Once again robbing the masses of the best and the brightest when big-name talent divorces monolithic media conglomerate. This time the unhappy couple is, of course, Conan O'Brien and NBC, embroiled in and ugly threesome of ego and ratings failure with Jay Leno.

And, as is often the case it's us, boys and girls, caught in the middle. What are we losing?

The Masturbating Bear.

Pimpbot 5000.

soundboard.com

No more Conando.

All wiped away forever in the deal that will give Conan his $30 million (reportedly) in alimony. He may move to Fox or HBO or the Internets or space, but it will be without the treasure trove of odd, sometimes even comic, characters and bits that have been part of his schtick since his incarnation of "Late Night" cranked up in 1993 until his eventual flameout after less than a year on :The Tonight Show."

But what about the dog? Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, that is? The future is unclear for the smutty mutt, reports the Hollywood Reporter. The character was developed by O'Brien pal, and "Saturday Night Live" "TV Funhouse" genius Robert Smeigel, but there's no word on who actually owns the rights.

While the vast majority of the characters O'Brien introduced are said to owned by NBC, it's unclear who controls Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, the crass canine puppet that is perhaps O'Brien's most popular recurring bit. Triumph was originated by writer and longtime O'Brien pal Robert Smigel, whose reps declined to comment on whether Smigel or NBC owned rights to the character.

Will mom or dad get the family pet? We'll have to wait to find out.

Of course, NBC has famously been down this path before, again with Leno playing a major role. When Johnny Carson hit the brick as the iconic hot of "The Tonight Show" in 1992, David Letterman and Leno were embroiled in a cage match to see who would inherit the seat next to Ed McMahon, both assuming the show was their birthright.

Leno won and Letterman bolted, at Carson's urging, for CBS. But not before NBC stripped him of several trinkets of intellectual property, including his old "Late Night" show name, which would become O'Brien's home, rebranded as "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," until last year. Letterman couldn't even take Larry Bud Melman, the recurring cantankerous old man character - no, not his real father - though the actor who played him, Calvert DeForest did make the trek to CBS.

The famously acerbic Letterman found ways to sidestep NBC's intellectual tentacles - a loose renaming of his Top Ten list, for instance, being the most famous in the parting. And he came up with a whole new lineup of characters - Biff the Stage Manager - and skits.

Conan will be no different. The Harvard alum's start in the business writing for "The Simpsons" and "SNL," before becoming the controversial replacement for Letterman, will give him a leg up restarting the creativity gene. Some critics have complained that his move to the mainstream "Tonight Show" had softened the often unconventional humor than was his calling card on a later slot. Being forced to figure out a new format and content, while sitting on a boatload of NBC cash, may be just the clean start the brainy host needs to recapture his edge.

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33 Comments

What? No FedEx Pope??

A lot of those characters havent been seen for quite awhile anyway.

bum: especially the Masturbating Bear. However, if the Letterman history is any indication, you'll see a masturbating orangutan on Fox soon. Krustofski the Clown will probably make guest appearances.

The problem for Conan and the idiocy of NBC was basically moving the "Tonight Show" to 10pm and re-naming it the Jay Leno Show. This didn't give Conan a real chance to build his audience, it fragmented his potential viewers, made Conan's show redundant at the later time slot, and gave him a horrible lead-in due to utter disastrous ratings for Leno.

Leno bombs in ratings, and Conan is the one who is getting pulled, another great move by NBC. I predict the new Leno Tonight Show will go down in flames big time, I really sense America is pissed off at the way Conan is being treated and how Leno won't be a man and let Conan have his chance.

I would like to apologize to the cast of The Office, 30 Rock and each Olympian from around the globe for my boycott of NBC. I am going to miss Brian Williams. Law&Order runs on 1700 other channels so I can continue my unhealthy addiction to performing the opening on my air-bass.
I love you Conan and I will follow you wherever you roam.

NBC sucks !!! Conan my whole family will not watch LENO !!! You are loved and life without Conan at night is unimaginable.
So your whole crew moved to LA only to be shit on by NBC.Holly crapoly and SHAME on NBC + LENO !
Conan you have been original + Leno's been friggin boring !!! If I were NBC I'd offer you anything including breast feeding if you desired.
I predict Lenos audience will turn him off after they figure NBC eats their young ! And thats NOT funny !!!
So get Triumph the insult dog to explain to leno what a dick he is + then let the masurbating bear do his thing all over his big chin.

NBC kind of did the same thing to Letterman so after next week I will switch to The Late Show with David Letterman. I use to love Late Night with Conan O'Brien and it seems that Conan had to tune down his humor a bit. I think Conan was make the transition to the early slot and would have been just fine if the network could just give him some time. The Leno show was too much for me. Truth be told I never really was a big fan of Leno but I don’t hate the guy like a lot of people seem to right now I just never found his style of humor funny. I think they should have just moved Leno to Thursday night at 10:00 only and increased his budget just a bit. They should have given Leno a full week with his writers to come up with a show that would fit with the rest of NBC's Thursday night line up. One thing is for sure I am one of those people that think NBC more then anyone screwed this up.

No mention of cactus chef playing "we didn't start the fire"?

Amen.

I'm going to watch Craig Ferguson!

Conan's write staff are the ones who came up with a lot of those bits (and played the characters on the show, natch). Wherever Conan goes, and hires new staff- I have faith he'll keep employing the funny men & women who created those desk bits that he approved.

This is a win- it just makes NBC look like a bigger collective of douchetards. If that's possible.

You're a little late if you're just now missing Pimpbot. He hasn't been around in years. And the Masturbating Bear was never going to make the transition to the Tonight Show (although I wouldn't be surprised if Conan brought him out during his last week just to bid farewell). Conando's the only one on that list that I'm going to miss.

It's bits like In the Year 3000 and Twitter Tracker that I'm going to REALLY miss.

Don't blame Jay, blame Jeff Zucker. He made the same stupid mistake twice.

Let's review. In 2004, NBC was afraid that Conan would leave and not be there should Jay decide to retire. So, after consulting Jay and obtaining his agreement to retire, they sewed up Conan in a contract to take over The Tonight Show five years down the road. See: http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/6d1caacad1/jay-s-2004-announcement

Now comes 2009, and NBC honors its contract with Conan and gives him The Tonight Show. BUT, Jay has been enormously successful and NBC is worried that he will jump to another network and compete against Jay. So, NBC cooks up a scheme to keep Jay at NBC by offering him the 10:00 show. THAT is the point where Zucher screwed up. If Zucker wanted to keep Jay that badly, he should have breached Conan's contract and paid him off to leave NBC right then and there. Or, if Zucker really wanted Conan, he should have just said goodbye to Jay and let him do whatever he wanted to do elsewhere.

But, by trying to keep both personalities locked into NBC, Zucker was courting either possible success or possible disaster. Even Jay's enormous personal appeal wasn't enough to make it work. Zucker bet the farm on this combination and lost. Conan needed time to ramp up, and Zucher was betting that Jay would produce an immediate hit. It was a noble experiment, but Zucker should have seen that audiences just don't want talk shows at 10:00 at night. Variety shows, yes, maybe, but talk shows? No. Just...no. No matter how familiar and lovable Jay is to his peeps, they are the late night crowd, not the prime time crowd.

When the affiliates threatened to pull the show, Zucker made the same mistake again. He should have let Jay go. But, he wanted to sew him up AGAIN so Jay wouldn't walk and compete against Conan from a perch at another network. So, Zucker came up with the scheme to put Jay back into the slot his peeps loved, to see the exact part of the show they loved the most, as a lead-in to Conan. Jay, ever the loyal company man, said yes. But Conan went ballistic. It was a compromise that might actually have worked brilliantly because Jay would have provided a strong lead-in. Of course, both would have to bear the embarrassment of being cut back - Jay into a mini show and Conan into a later hour. But was that really so bad?

Yes, Zucher should have known that Conan would refuse. According to published reports, Conan already had a track record of refusing constructive advice, saying "I do what I do." Did Zucher really think Conan would go for it? Conan's embarrassed anger was entirely predictable. And so Zucker finally chose to let one of them go, when he should have bitten that bullet when Jay's Tonight Show contract expired.

Note that in 2004, NBC went to Jay and specifically smoothed his feathers and got his agreement to replacing him with Conan down the road before promising Conan he would succeed Jay at the helm of The Tonight Show. But, did they do the same with Conan, here? Did they privately explain the network's problem and ask him to buy in to the solution? Coddle his ego a little?

We don't know. Perhaps they did and Conan was balking, so they let rumors of the new proposal leak out to put pressure on him. But, hey, they were dealing with a stubborn Irishman still trying to get The Tonight Show under control. Did they really think he would agree to what might be perceived as a devaluation?

And here's the thing. If Conan hadn't stuck it to them so royally, perhaps they would have found yet something else for Jay to do. But, after Conan's public up yours about "his" Tonight Show, a very pissed NBC elected to give "its" Tonight Show right back to Jay.

So instead of one guy being unhappy with his future prospects and leaving, Zucher presided over a public brawl that left NBC and Jay heavily damaged. And all because he didn't have the guts to choose between them last year.

I don't care

FEDEX POPE????

preparation H raymond

I've always been a huge fan of Conan's. Jay is a bore and doesn't deserve the Tonight Show. I can't wait for Conan to get back on the air so late night can be funny again.

Conan and his freshman humor and antics..so long, farewell, goodbye...I won't miss him..now let's get rid of fergasen letterman fallon and that other guy

The one who should be fired finally is Zucker. He kelps screwing up royally but there r no consequences. Must have pictures of someone! If I was Comcast, I would break the deal and run! Leno us damaged goods. He will never have the ratings he had b4 in latenite. People have changed their viewing habits. Much of his audience didn't follow him to primetime and his former viewers on late night have developed new viewing habits that are already ingrained. When the O.J. Trial aired in daytime tv, the soaps never recovered. Their audiences were permanently smaller. The same thing will hallen to Leno. NBC is going down the drain fast. Conan is laughing all the way to the bank. And Letterman will continue making jabs at NBC and why not? NBC screwed him years ago and now because of Zucker being such a pinhead, Letterman will continue to be king of late night for a very long time. It will be interesting to see how long they keep Leno in late night b4 canning him and paying him off. He will be gone by the summer, the fall the latest is my prediction. The affiliates will bolt!

Fire Jeff zucker! He is the one that should be leaving NBC!

To be honest with ya’ll….
Connan O’bien is Great.
He really deserves better.
It seems to me his real talents were really underestimated & being under the lid top over him.
That’s Not right at all.
Check this out.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OX_j29gK96Y

We know that Leno beats Letterman overall, but that Letterman beats Leno in the younger demographics.

We know that Letterman beats O'Brien overall, but that O'Brien beats Letterman in the younger demographics.

So what happens when O'Brien shows up hosting the "Night Show" on Fox at 11E/10C?

Leno beats Letterman for overall audience. O'Brien beats Letterman for the youth audience. Squeezed between them, Letterman has nothing to sell advertisers.

Goodbye, Late Show!

The character i'll miss most has been actually gone for quite a while now, PimpBot 5000. Not sure how many people got to see him, but that character was the funniest, always had something funny to say. I knew once Conan went to the Tonight Show, he'd have to tone it down and we wouldnt see some of these characters anyway.

After how they screwed him, they should let him have them back. Or else he should just go to midnight, just to stick it to NBC, who really would rather have Leno do an hour show than screw things up with a half hour 11:30 show. Later timeslot means he'll get to do these characters again. He was thinking about how moving to midnight would screw up what is "The Tonight Show" and how it wouldnt be fair to Fallon and Carson, he was really thinking about everyone else which says a lot about him. But you know NBC wouldnt want him at midnight, and Leno wouldnt really want a 30 minute show. They wanted Conan out, screw them.

People are saying it's not Leno's fault but in reality, Leno has never respectfully said that "this is now Conan's show and I have stepped aside."

In comparison, a few years ago Letterman was offered Koppel's time slot on ABC. Letterman declined saying that Koppel should be given the dignity of stepping aside on his own when he's ready. Sure it was the executives that were coming up with the idea, but in the end Letterman was the one who made the decision by saying he simply won't do it.

Leno should have piped up and had more class. Let Conan keep the show he earned. F U Leno.

Here's the thing.

When Leno graciously stepped aside for Conan, under the deal that had been negotiated five years before, Jay still had time to run on his contract. About 6 to 8 months, plus a year long noncompete at the end of it. He asked to be let out of his contract, but NBC wouldn't. BLAME NBC!

Instead, NBC convinced Jay to try the new primetime show by showing him focus group results that it would be a smash hit. Jay wasn't keen on it, but he had 175 staff members depending on him, so he took it. NBC told him it would tank at first but next spring and summer it would take off when regular night time programming was in hiatus. The idea was that Jay would grab the audience then and they would then stick with him. The show performed EXACTLY as expected (not taking off yet) but NBC had no plans to stop it until the affiliates got nervous and started to complain.

What is the lesson here? Conan started out weak. This show, added later, was to grow slowly and eventually provide a strong lead-in for the news and Conan. NBC was willing to wait it out to see if both men caught fire, but the affiliates balked. So, it is nobody's fault except NBC's because they should have seen that, in a recession, nobody was going to be patient.

Second thing. Now, Jay had a new two year contract that was cancelled after a few months. Again, NBC refused to let him out of it. Instead, they cooked up another scheme to put Jay back at 11:30 to provide a strong lead-in to
Conan, since that's where Jay's peeps really are.

So, kittens, don't blame Jay. He took the deals because otherwise he'd be twiddling his thumbs under an unexpired contract and his staff would be unemployed.

Drew, above, misses the point of his own example of Letterman being offered Koppel's spot and declining, saying Koppel should go out when he is ready. That's how Conan should have acted in 1994, instead of angling to replace Jay or threatening to leave. Jay should have been allowed to continue for as long as he wanted and to leave when he himself felt it was time (assuming, of course, that he continued to be successful).

Conan had quite some nerve jumping up and down and trying to get the Tonight Show yanked away from Leno in the first place. He didn't have the chops back then and, sadly, doesn't have the chops now, either.

Who gets Abe Vigoda?

@boopsie2010: "Jay wasn't keen on it, but he had 175 staff members depending on him, so he took it."

You mean the staff from his 'Tonight show'? Bull! That staff had five years to get their stuff together. And I'm not saying they mightn't have had trouble securing other work, I'm just saying that there's no way they were still depending on Jay Leno to secure it for them.

Furthermore, even if Jay *did* have another 6mos under contract, the contract would have been for him to host 'The Tonight Show' and *not* as NBC's personal plaything.

The noncompete *may* have held up (and Jay could have cooled his heels for a year with no serious injury to his good name), but I doubt it--seeing as how NBC's failure to plan the switch at the proper time (if, indeed, Jay still had 6mos left), constitutes breach of contract on their end. In that case, he could have (and should have) sued the s*#t out of NBC--as Conan will likely do, now.

I'll agree that this isn't *entirely* Leno's fault (NBC is, actually, mostly to blame), but let's just put it this way: We wouldn't even be having these conversations if Jay had retired, back in June.

What a shame, Leno has no talent, if your amused by him, I feel sorry for you. Conan is awesome and when all the people that watch leno die off or start going to sleep at 10pm, which I estimate will happen in less 5 years, nbc will be screwed.

If Conan goes so do I, and just who am I?

I am one person who is part of the younger demographic, the 18 to 35 year olds that the networks target.

I am a person who wants to laugh at night, not be bullsh-ted with sneaky policitical propaganda.

Leno is getting old, im tired of his jabs at democrats, 70% of his joke are politica, and 50% of those are about a president who hasnt been in office for 10 years now!

Conan was just funny he was stupidly funny, I could wath him to escape the politics of the day!

It seems to me that Comcast (who is very pro right wing) wants Leno back, Comcast and 65 to 100 year old demograpghic

It is easy for me to boycott NBC, for one they dont have thing worth watching anymore, and we they do get good shows, they cancel them a week latter.

I miss "My name is earl" WTF did they cancel that show for?

I have my computer I soend mroe time on it then TV anyway, and there are 99 other channels on TV to watch.

Well now I think of it I never really watched Lena that mutch to begin with, Monday for headlines then I switch the channel anyway.

This boycott is going to be easy!

I DO blame Jay Leno.

He knew it was Conan's show.

Regardless of Jay's "contract" with NBC, we all know that a man like Jay with $800 million CAN get out of a two-year contact. He COULD have stepped aside for Conan. That would have been the honorable thing to do.

But slimy, smarmy Jay is a d-ckless wonder and it doesn't surprise me a bit that he selfishly still wanted the show for himself.

Jay has NO moral compass. The guy is a jerkwad. He'll screw over anyone as long as he ends up on top.

No great guest list will help O'Brien. He's never been funny. Leno isn't either anymore.


The fact of the matter is conan and. His viewing audience is catching it with no vaseline. NBC is going in raw. Conan is the only reason I watch late night talk shows. I have rolled with conan since the early 90's and I feel like a great era in my life is ending. Nothing better than rolling a j and catching a few laughs before I hit the sack.conan will be missed. in the year two thousand Leno blows the masturbating bear.

I think Jay Leno is the best nightime host,he was the best by far after Johnny Carson. Conan is obnoxious,not funny at all and comes off as an amateur. I really tried to watch his show several times and never got passed 5 minutes before I turned it off.Letterman, and any other nightime host is better than Conan. Ugh

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    This page contains a single entry by Craig Newman published on January 16, 2010 10:35 PM.

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