Rob Lowe and Conan O'Brien discuss their shared experience: getting screwed

Rob Lowe stopped by The Tonight Show last night to offer Conan O’Brien some comfort: “As someone who has left a celebrated NBC franchise myself… it can be done. Believe me, if my experience can you give you anything, it’s that in a couple of years, nobody will even remember The Tonight Show,” he said, “just like they don’t remember The West Wing.” Joking aside, the former Lyon’s Den star was able to empathize with the concept of recently getting screwed: In the clip below, Lowe talks about how James Van Der Beek cheated him out of a homerun at a celebrity softball game at Dodger Stadium by allegedly pretending to catch a flyball that he didn’t. “So James Van Der Beek is a liar, is what you’re saying?” Conan asks. “He’s a liar, but a damn good actor,” Lowe answers. Best review Dawson has seen in years!

Lowe, who’d already filled Conan in on his passion for heliskiing to hilarious results, then asked Conan if he does anything — meaning sports. “Yes, I sit in a closet and play Stratego. ‘Do you do anything?’ I’m gonna start doin’ some stuff now, I think,” Conan cracked. “I have some time on my hands.” Conan then tried to set Andy Richter up for a story about his athleticism, but Andy misspoke and Conan interrupted him: “You said ‘not recently.’ Ha aa. We’re almost off the air, and you screwed up. ‘Not recently, I mean recently,’” he said, slapping his hand and then the mic on his desk. Still, the best was yet to come: Acknowledging that “these are our dumbest shows yet,” Conan pretended to pet a hairless cat and said, “They’re watching right now at NBC. What’s happening? Why is he still on?… I thought someone had killed him.” Yeah, maybe that last line was a bit too much. Conan knew it. “Nothing to lose,” he said.

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  • PirateKitty

    I that about Conan, if he has to go down it will be in a blaze of glory! Wherever he ends up, I’ll be watching.

    • halo

      It would deserve NBC and that LOOSER Zucker is Leno and O’Brien both walked.
      That would be AWESOME and stick a fork in NBC for good and all.

      • dru

        It’s “loser.”

      • hf

        “Looser” does seem to be the accepted online spelling.

      • mark

        it’s “accepted”? i hope you’re joking. it’s WRONG.

      • dating-doctors

        I love Coco, stay on Fox

      • hf

        Yes I’m joking, lol. You see that particular misspelling all over the internet, that’s what I meant by “accepted.”

      • quispy

        I think you mean “xcepted”.

  • Fyrkat

    I just want this to be over already. Jay needs to be the stand up guy and tell NBC to shove it. ‘The Tonight Show’ as an institution deserves better and more consideration from the suits and Leno.
    Leave ‘Tonight’ where it is and either cut Leno or put his block between Tonight and Jimmy Fallon (or maybe get rid of Jimmy altogether).
    Just please make this go away!!!

    • Dusty

      Why get rid of Jimmy? His show is consistently better than both of their shows.

      • nick

        Seriously?

        I tried to watch Jimmy but it was just too painful…Maybe he needs more stage time to get it right.

      • Screw Jimmy

        I’ll take that as sarcasm. Jimmy was okay to watch for 30 seconds when he was on SNL but obnoxious, annoying, and completely lame as a host.

      • Mel

        I wanted to like Jimmy as a host but he just doesn’t have it.

        I waited years for Conan to move so I could watch him earlier.

        Jay needs to be a bigger man and realize that at 60 late night talk show is just not his thing. I think he would do better with touring as a stand up comic. Maybe he thinks that is going backwards.

      • JeffC

        Yeah, I wanted to see Jimmy succeed, but watching his show is painful. It just doesn’t work.

      • G-Mom

        I agree!! He’s not as good doing the opening monologe, but everything else is much funnier than Conan!! Plus he’s a good interviewer and a gracious host, unlike Conan.

      • mamarose

        I agree! I don’t understand all the Jimmy-bashing. I think he’s innovative and very funny. Still needs to work a little bit on his interviewing skills, but that’s my only point of criticism.

      • jc

        i find jimmy’s sketches funny, actually. although i do think he has a lot to improve on, particularly the interview and monologue part. in general, he appears to be a bit too self-conscious still but i believe he’ll grow out of it eventually.

    • brent

      It is lenos ego – he doesnt want his last moment in the light to be a failure and NBC is willing to throw Conan under the bus to get their ratings back.

      • Janice

        Yes. You are exactly right! That is what I have been thinking, but you just put it all in one sentence. Thank you. LENO RETIRED!!! So, retire!!!!

      • Ali

        I’ve totally lost all respect for Leno. I’m really proud of Conan and I will miss him.

  • GABRIELA

    HOT DAMN GONNA GITS ME A MILLIOAIRE DOCTOR!

  • Tony

    Conan’s bit impersonating the NBC execs petting a cat was not too much. It was perfect. The “nothing to lose” comment was not an admission of going too far – it was an acknowledgement that he doesn’t need to hold back anymore. Good for him! This weeks shows have been some of his best ever. I say bring on more “dumb” shows, Conan!

    • TheObserver

      Amen!

    • Quirky

      I agree. As a long time fan, this is the loosest I’ve ever seen Conan and it’s making him funnier than ever.

      • Shelby

        Agreed! The fact that he has nothing to lose has really lit a fire under his butt. His shows this week have been even more hilarious than normal!

      • Lizabeth

        I thought the same thing.

  • Karloff

    Why don’t they just give Jay a weekend show and get rid of that pathetic SNL?

    • Daphne

      Why reward Jay Leno for being nasty and petulant? SNL is a lot of things, but it’s a lot funnier than Jay Leno and his tired old Viagra jokes.

      • Elaine Connelly

        SNL is not funny. It hasn’t been funny for at least 10 years. Daphne you are an idiot.

      • Daphne

        Jay Leno isn’t funny either, Elaine, that was my point you dimwit.

      • Niix Starkyller

        Yes, Elaine, you ignorant slut.

      • MaryJane

        Who’s nasty and petulant? It certainly isn’t Leno. It’s Conan who’s got the attitude. He should pack up and leave, already. Kindergarten classes are still available to handle his brand of immature antics.

      • T.C.

        Mary Jane-
        You are telling me that if you were hired at a job where the person you were REPLACING came back because the head honchos werent getting the preformance out of the new position they created. And they decided that they were going to bring back the old person and stick you with bull crap job and screw everybody elses job that went with yours. You wouldnt be just as upset? I can hardly believe that anyone with any passion for what they do would would sit by and just let it happen. Conan is in a position where he can make his frustrations known, and he can be humorus about it. What is happening to him is unfair and he has every right to say the things that he has said. Jay retired…they planned Conan going down to the Tonights show for years. It is hardly fair that they havent given Conan the time to establish his own. Instead NBC is taking that away. He isnt being immature, he is expressing his passion for his job and how upset he is at NBC for taking that away. You should maybe think how you would feel and react if you were in his shoes before you go making judgements on a person who just lost what he loves.

      • azul120

        MaryJane, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Conan has every right to protest against NBC, since they’ve been screwing him out, and Leno’s basically being a contrarian in all of this.

      • azul120

        One other thing: Leno’s sudden decision to come back for a primetime show this past fall came at the expense of a few of NBC’s shows.

  • David

    I don’t know where Conan is coming from. He is WAY behind Letterman in the ratings, while Leno was always ahead. It only took seven months for Conan to lose a significant portion of the audience that regularly watched the Tonight show. NBC should gladly let him go to Fox, where he can continue to be THIRD or worse in the ratings at 11:35. I say don’t pay him a dime if he leaves – why pay someone who can’t even hold a ready-made audience?

    • Edward

      David,

      Did you ever think that NBC undermined Conan from the start, leading to his bad ratings? The Leno fans might have stayed and warmed up to Conan, but instead, they could see the Tonight Show “classic”, with Leno @ 10. And, since that 10pm block drew low ratings, so did the news on those channels, which led to lower Tonight Show ratings. So, by putting Jay on at 10, they messed it up. Now they are trying to blame Conan? Laughable, at best.

      • Marsha

        Laughable, but very typical.

      • Al

        This all goes back to their prime time line-up. Other than 30 Rock and the office this network is in the tank. hell even those shows aren’t rating juggernauts. Poor ratings lead into jay that leads into conan. So let me get this straight, CHUCK you won’t touch but the tonight show is in play? I’ve always been a fan of NBC and its long history of being a stand up network on television and radio and think it’s execs shouldnt really change their flagship shows (SNL, TODAY, Meet the Press, The Tonight Show and NBC Nightly News). All of which have a pretty much locked in time-slot THROUGH OUT THEIR HISTORY. this sets a precedent for maybe moving time-slots for other shows like the Nightly News and Meet the Press if their ratings slip. Good for Conan for recognizing his show’s history. I think even letterman cares more about the tonight show and its history than Jay does.
        If I’m David Gregory I’m kinda scared. Good thing SNL has a new host every week.

      • azul120

        Why are you singling out Chuck of all shows, Al? Chuck was in danger of cancellation due to Leno’s new show, and was saved largely due to the Subway fan campaign. Chuck is the closest thing NBC has going to a cult fave, and for good reason.

      • Mac

        Also, consider that it took Conan a couple/few years to catch on at Late Night, then he and that show started to win awards. Another example is that EVERYBODY thought Jimmy Kimmel sucked at first too. Now seven years later…….

    • Arturo

      Leno trailed Dave for about two years when they went head to head . . .

    • Eric

      The problem is not Conan. The Tonight Show has traditionally gotten strong audience lead-ins from the local news which precedes it. The local news in turn got their strong lead-ins from scripted programs – like dramas and situation comedies. But when NBC cut those to save money and put the much-cheaper-to-produce Leno show on, the local affiliates lost their strong audience lead-in. And from there, the ratings eroded. It’s not Leno’s ratings affecting this whole problem (his are low, but still bring in more than enough $$ to cover the show), it’s the affiliates losing ratings and money from less audience. They’re the ones pressuring NBC to bump Leno. NBC has botched this because they’ve ruined rating for their affiliates, which ruins ratings for Late Night.

      • TD

        Just because that is the line that the media is using, doesn’t mean you have to buy it. I personally hate our NBC move, and myself (as well as a lot of other people I know) used to watch the Daily Show and then tune to Leno when it was over. The problem with Conan is that He attracts a completely different type of audience than Leno does. NBC was guaranteed to destroy their ready made audience just because of two drastically different styles. They were knew that Leno at 10 would fail… but in the short term it saved them a lot of money… which is probably, ultimately what this was all about. NBC made a short sighted deal 5 years ago, couldn’t get out of it, so they set everyone up to fail and saved some money as they did it.

    • TJ

      Your obviously to stupid to even watch late night TV, let alone comment on it.

      • hoptoady

        TJ: I think you mean “too” stupid. “Your” should be “you’re”. When hurling insults about stupidity – try and spell them right.

      • Lee

        Watch out TJ, the Grammar Police are coming to get you!

      • JeffC

        Lee, you missed the point. TJ brought all that upon himself when he made two spelling mistakes while calling someone else stupid. Priceless.

      • Niix Starkyller

        Actually, hoptoady, the phrase ‘try and spell…’ is a common and erroneous colloquialism. If we were proper grammarians we’d use ‘try to spell…’ instead. I mention this merely in passing.

      • shangrila

        You grammar police need lives. There is a whole world out there, beyond the safety and warmth of your computer. Have any of you ever even kissed a girl/guy???

    • John Gil

      The way I heard it, the rating were close except the rating for the newscasts following Leno were way down. This is who complained. Viewers did not return to NBC to watch the news because they had switched from Leno. The NBC spokesman is a liar…

      • sue

        Doesn’t everyone have a remote with their TV? Can’t they switch the channel to watch their favorite local news? Are we that lazy that we just watch whatever is on the same channel, regardless of quality? Leno belongs at 11:30, Conan belongs in kindergarten, especially after last night’s monologue.

    • Cindy

      You’re wrong. Leno took nearly three years to beat Letterman in the ratings – only doing so for the first time when Hugh Grant came on and talked about his arrest.

  • Kristen

    I agree. Jay should do the classy thing and bow out and say goodbye.

    • D Man

      Why, when it was Conan that basically forced Jay into retirement in the first place.

      • Lindsey

        Jay has enough power to say no. We’re seeing how he pulls the strings now. At the time he must have been ready to retire or he wouldn’t have agreed to it. It’s not Conan’s fault Jay decided to change his mind.

      • Patrick Murphy

        Conan didn’t force Jay into doing anything. If he was, why did Jay get a 5-year contract. Jay didn’t want to host past the age of 50 and said in 2004 this would be his final contract, and NBC named Conan the successor right away so they didn’t have another Leno/Letterman situation.

        Then Jay changed his mind, and NBC forgot to put something in his contract to keep him off the air after he retired.

        This is the fault of Jay and NBC. Not Conan, not Letterman.

      • Daphne

        Are you kidding me? NBC asked Leno to step down, which he was fine with until the time actually came. They went to Conan after they talked to Leno. Leno changed his mind at the last minute and screwed everyone.
        If that were the case then why wouldn’t Leno speak up about that, and why wouldn’t more people be on his side? Conan is the good guy in all of this, and Leno is an unfunny whiny twerp.

    • Dave

      It was NBC that forced Jay out of the Tonight Show slot because they were afraid to lose Conan to another network. So, in 2004 they signed a contract that said Jay would leave in ’09 and Conan would move up. But they f**ked Conan over by allowing Jay to stay on at 10. Either both shows would work, or both shows would suffer and then NBC could get rid of Conan and move Jay back. Conan needs to go to Fox where he can be himself instead of watering down his program for middle America.

      • brent

        conan should move his show to the net – he could self produce and do what he wants.

      • side3

        Let’s put a stop to this now…Jay announced he would retire ‘in 2009′ back in 2004. Here is the story to prove it:

        http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,702402,00.html

        NBC did not ‘make him step down’

  • Jean Guy Levesque

    In all honesty, they are all losers compared to Letterman. Vive la Quebec!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Alan

      Sorry, Letterman is a loser too. You should have written that all late night talk show hosts are all losers compared to Ferguson. He is the only one worth watching. All the other are terrible.

      • JeffC

        Wow. I absolutely hate Ferguson. Just goes to show you how diverse the world is. ;)

    • Elaine Connelly

      Letterman is not in the least bit entertaining. I lost all respect for him, when I learned that he was bonking his employees. What any woman could see in bonking him is beyond me. It must be the “no rich man is ugly” syndrome. Because he is not, I REPEAT HE IS NOT IN THE LEAST BIT FUNNY. He is too old to perform the kind of humor he does on his show. RETIRE ALREADY LETTERMAN! AND JEAN GUY LEVESQUE, GO BACK TO CANADA ALREADY!

      • XanderLJ

        Elaine, as others have previously stated, you’re a dimwit AND an ignorant slut. Go back to kindergarden ‘cuz the first time was clearly wasted, dummy!

  • juju

    No, Leno was not always ahead. He got Hugh Grant in the wake of the bj scandal, and that vaulted him past Letterman. But that was well into his Tonight Show tenure. I was so happy when they announced way back when that Not Ever Funny Jerk Leno was retiring in 2009 and I could watch The Tonight Show again. No such luck. Thanks, NBC. You deserve the ratings you’re currently getting and the even worse ones you’re going to have now.

    • Blue Sunflower

      Leno wasn’t retiring, he was being forced out. Google it. Conan wanted Leno’s job and insisted NBC basically fire him. The biggest mistake NBC made was giving into Conan’s demands. Leno NEVER wanted to leave.

      • MMK

        Google ‘Leno made Conan wait five years for the Tonight Show.’

      • DOM

        You are kidding? NBC gave into Conan? What fantasy world did that happen in. Get your facts before commenting. Conan was contracted for six years to wait for the Tonight Show.

      • Blue Sunflower

        I know my facts, thanks. Perhaps you should google “Conan Leno contract.” Conan’s the one who started this, NOT Leno. Conan did it because he wanted the Tonight Show even though Leno still held the job.

      • Daphne

        That’s such an utter load of crap. Conan is widely known as a nice man, and would never do that. Read the Rolling Stone article where Leno himself says that he changed his mind about leaving at the last minute and made them give him a 10pm show (that has sunk all of NBC’s other high-rated shows and has been a cataclysmic flop and brought down other shows with it).

  • Justin Matlow

    Whats wrong with our generation?I really think that people like Conan and Letterman start to forget that they are comedians who are supposed to be serious about writing jokes and making people laugh. Conan can do all of the silly dances he wants for laughs but serious comedy writers like Leno will be getting the last.

    • TheObserver

      conan is a comedy writer….he wrote for ‘The simpsons’ for years as well for SNL before it started its downward spiral…get your facts straight…conan is a comedy writer….a much better one than Leno

      • justin

        dude conan is a lousy comedy writer that would rather do funny dances because his monologue isn’t as good as leno.

    • Hughes

      Conan is an imiginative genius, Leno is a classic-unoriginal-punchline joke, rehashed, redone and recycled which taylors to the older generation because they’re losing their minds and can’t understand the new brands of humour.

    • Perrin Ayberra

      I agree wth Justin. Conan may have been a good writer on the Simpson’s or on Saturday Night Live but the writing for his late night shows has always been second rate. He needs to surround himself with a better team of writers to win the ratings war.

      • DL

        Yeah, because it was the top-notch writers that got Leno ahead of Letterman…

    • Daphne

      Conan has drive and ambition and wants to do fun and exciting things with the Tonight Show. Jay Leno had 17 years and is still making outdated Lewinski jokes.

  • Lewis

    i do not really care.

    • Hughes

      No, he was threatening to go elsewhere because he had a better opportunity elsewhere, NBC wanted to keep him because they thought he was their future, so THEY decided to offer him this opportunity, not the other way around. Besides, the real deal here is,A. Conan is better than Leno, ask any comedian. B. If everyone around you (except 45+ year olds who do not understand his brand of humour) would clearly state that you are a genius, you would be inclined to affirm your position as a superior talent than Leno and say “hey you know what, to hell with this, they want to give him everything and I’m worth more than this, I’m walking” and C. The hiring of Jimmy Fallon is the stupidest move ever on their part! LOL He’s a complete ZERO, this guy is a nothing…a shadow in the mist if you ask me.

    • Dave

      You’re an idiot. NBC wanted to keep Conan, so they signed that 5 year contract in 2004. It’s NBC’s fault through and through. They should have just let Conan go to Fox or ABC in ’04. Jay’s a f**king hypocrite…in 1992 the same thing almost happened to him, and he was b**ching and moaning about it. And now he’s ousting Conan. But keep enjoying your terrible jokes and Jaywalking, I’m sure that’ll keep your 5th grade mind active.

      • Dave

        Sorry, this comment was meant for Blue Sunflower, not you Hughes, I agree with you.

    • JeffC

      Hughes, do you have a brain? Why would 45+ year old folks not understand Conan’s humor? I actually prefer Conan to Leno, and I’m (gasp!) over 45. Hell, Conan is over 45!!!!

  • Luis Matos

    After watching from the inside the meltdown of the music industry with such high rolers as Universal, BMG and Warner screwing by taking decisions that ammounted to nothing less than shots in the head, it’s particularly interesting to watch the downfall of NBC (at least the ethos that it was), that will impact in a way I can’t imagine in the American TV landscape. This is just the start. It’s non Leno or Conan. It’s the core values of management that were lost somewhere. For as long as Conan remains just a prop in the hands of a TV executive – stripped out of his human personality (which is what appeals to his viewers and fans) – the gap between viewers and decision makers in the media will widen more and more. It’s their money to spend the way they want to. However, we – the forgotten viewer – are the ones with the remote in our hands, those who decide to reward these jerks with our loyalty or not. It’s not about Conan, or Leno. It’s about ME. And they will lose the ratings every time they miss this mute point. F$%#k NBC.

  • Blue Sunflower

    Put your big boy pants on Conan and take your hit. Quit acting all innocent and tell the truth. This whole mess started because YOU forced Jay out by demanding NBC give you HIS job. Jay’s the REAL innocent in all this.

    • Kay

      I wouldn’t say Jay is completely innocent but I do agree that Conan is not the golden boy in all this. His wheeling and dealing with NBC way back when is what set all this in motion.

  • BigDiesel

    I’m tired of Conan saying he’s a victim. It’s all about ratings. When Leno was hosting the Tonight Show at 1135, they were #1. After passing that #1 position to Conan, he couldn’t sustain it. All Obrien needed to do was not lose the lead..but he did, dropping to 3rd. So alot of Conan fans out there, but NBC wants the first string QB in the game, not 2nd string. Oh, and as far as Rosie’s comments, really she should just disappear, again!

    • John Gil

      Leno’s audience are mostly geezers who would not like Conan or change of any sort whatsoever. I’m not defending Conan, I just don’t agree with your comment.

    • TheBand

      leno wasn’t #1 when he first took over the show, it took time, time that conan is not being given.

    • DL

      So by your logic Leno should’ve been out for almost two years when he ended up passing Letterman.

      Good to know, good to know.

  • Sammy

    After being a 35-year Tonight Show loyalist, I will follow Conan to wherever he goes for a nightly post-news show. NBC has cut him off at the knees twice, now. Despite previously saying that Conan was the future of NBC, Ebersol and the other NBC brass this morning are clearly siding with Jay. I won’t watch Jay’s new Tonite Show, despite previously being a fan. Conan has brought a new vibe to the T.S. that has grown on me. For example, I love the quirkiness of the “In the Year 3000″ bit. Conan flips back and forth between really smart comedy and plain goofiness, which I like. He’s also clearly not as self-important as Jay. Conan is the new man!

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