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(32,997 posts)
Sun Dec 24, 2023, 08:39 PM Dec 2023

Conan O'Brien Says College Kids Helped Make 'Late Night' Successful

In a new oral history tied to the 30th anniversary of 'Late Night with Conan O'Brien,' the former host and the show's creative team and crew revealed how the college crowd — and David Letterman — helped turn the show's luck around.

The Hollywood Reporter link: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/tv/tv-news/conan-obrien-college-kids-david-letterman-saved-late-night-1235768647/

Late Night viewers may not have initially understood Conan O’Brien’s brand of humor, but there was an important demographic who did: college kids.

In Vanity Fair‘s oral history of Late Night with Conan O’ Brien for the show’s 30th anniversary, its cast and crew detailed how the college demographic ended up inadvertently saving the series from cancellation.

Months after the show premiered in September 1993, producer Jeff Ross received a call from NBC execs saying the show was in “imminent danger of being canceled.” Greg Kinnear was rumored to take over for O’Brien, as the gamble of hiring an unknown name to host Late Night had seemingly not paid off. However, exec Rick Ludwin convinced NBC to give the show another chance to find its audience.

... In the summer of 1994, things took a turn for the better. The audiences attending tapings were enthusiastic, understanding the show’s off-kilter segments. “I didn’t know what was happening. And then it dawned on me. Colleges let out. So college students started to come,” said O’Brien. Ross added, “People showed up knowing bits. It made us feel like we were onto something. I don’t think the network noticed it, but we noticed it.”
- more at link -

Link to Vanity Fair story: https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/conan-obriens-wild-first-year-an-oral-history

I absolutely believe this. I was a Conan O'Brien fan even in my late 40's/early 50's and I stayed up most nights to watch his show. Nowadays I'm a doddering retiree, and I DVR the Late Night (Seth Meyers) shows and watch them the next day. But Conan always had an audience that was hip and cool, they got his jokes, and he had great guests on the show. He was the new Dave Letterman for my son's generation. I always felt that NBC blew that call. Also ... don't get me started on the Dave Letterman fiasco.

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