Bill Carter, whose “The Late Shift” told the story of the battle between Jay Leno and David Letterman to replace Johnny Carson as host of “The Tonight Show,” is about to publish “The War For Late Night,” the behind-the-scenes saga of what happened when NBC forced Leno out from behind the “Tonight Show” desk and into primetime to make way for Conan O’Brien. I was already looking forward to reading it, but even more so after my appetite was whetted by this excerpt from the book in “Vanity Fair.”
It’s not a coincidence that the release of Carter’s book coincides with the November 8th debut of Conan’s new TBS show. Prediction: early on, the show will earn heightened interest from the viewing public and quick praise from the critics who have supported Conan for many years, but in less than a month, the ratings will cool off and, while he’ll have a decent-sized audience, “The Conan Show” will be not be a blockbuster, nor will it contain any content that will revolutionize late-night television. Bottom line: those who already like him will watch, but other programs airing at that time will not be significantly impacted.