Generally, I can’t write about anything career-wise on the blog – not since we made the move into television/film and could risk losing an awesome gig because I cracked wise about some entertainment executive with clever Google skills. But this Leno/Conan/NBC brouhaha imbroglio is a pretty fascinating reminder that no matter how big the players are, life is essentially still a lot like middle school.
People tend to vilify NBC for their decisions, but that’s a cruel synecdoche; NBC is just like any other company, in that it’s filled with some wonderful people who keep showing up to work every day in order to fight the good fight. A few of my favorite folks in Hollywood work in development there. Also, making successful TV shows is becoming more and a random game that CBS is currently winning – but these things always change.
I don’t have an opinion on who is being unjustly pilloried, who is owed what, or any of it, really. I made a decision in 1992 or so that if I were watching late-night talk show television, I was avoiding something. So I absolutely never watch any of those shows on any channel, except of course The Daily Show, or if a friend happens to be on.
But this current debacle reminds me of the botched transition of the UNC basketball coaching staff when Coach Guthridge decided to step down in 2000. What should have been an easy transition instead led to Roy Williams publically fretting about the job before going back to Kansas in front of a packed stadium and telling them “I’m stayin'”. It was a slice of jackassery that makes UNC fans involuntarily wince, but it was also jackassery UNC could have been avoided a week earlier with a few well-placed phone calls.
Put simply, I don’t understand why these big decisions get played out in press releases volleyed back and forth, allowing every yokel to opine one way or t’other. In 2000, Dean/Gut/UNC should have brought Roy in, told him the deal, given him a few days, and then moved on to plan B. No muss, no fuss.
Similarly, at NBC, it seems like friendly grown men could have agreed to meet in a conference room with all the players, aired all desires, grievances and contingencies, and taken two weeks to come to a consensus. Anything else is theater, bullyism, gossip and cockfighting.
All of these people, at UNC and NBC and everywhere else, play golf. Golf was created so that the 430 people who run the world can do so without seeming untoward. It boggles me why they would throw their spaghetti around an entire town to see what sticks, rather than teeing off and sipping a bourbon while their cooler heads prevail. What can us kids count on if the pentumvirate start arguing?
Ben Hogan, 1-iron, 1950 – photographed by Hy Peskin