Late-Night TV Needs a Lady!
Team Conan? Team Leno? Screw ‘em – I’m for Team Chelsea Handler.
The late-night shakeup is registering a 9.0 on the Andy Richter scale this week, with NBC taking heat for plans to bump Conan O’Brien’s The Tonight Show to 12:05 a.m. so that Jay Leno can return to his old stomping grounds at 11:35 p.m. Conan, with his pompadoured panache, made a statement on Tuesday indicating that he won’t accept the demotion after only seven months on the job. Rumor has it he may dump NBC and make a late night date with FOX.
“My staff and I have worked unbelievably hard and we are very proud of our contribution to the legacy of The Tonight Show. But I cannot participate in what I honestly believe is its destruction,” Conan said. “Some people will make the argument that with DVRs and the Internet a time slot doesn’t matter. But with The Tonight Show, I believe nothing could matter more.”
You know what could matter more to me? Finally having a woman host a network late-night show. Team Conan? Team Leno? Team Letterman? Team Insert White Guy Here? Screw them all – I’m for Team Chelsea Handler!
I’m tired of the networks presuming that only male hosts with almost entirely male writing staffs can hustle chuckles. E!’s Chelsea Lately regularly rocks my night, but she’s seen as an interloper in the late-night boy’s club. As Lynn Harris reported in a riveting piece for Salon, female writers staff only a sprinkling of half-hour comedy shows and even fewer late night comedy programs.
“The mystery to me is why any sort of general audience gives a shit about this issue,” a male late-night writer told Harris. “We’re talking about a total of like 80 jobs in America.”
But that’s the kicker. Those 80 jobs have defined the comedy conversation in America for decades. And for decades, white guys in suits have been the only ones allowed to speak. Do we even like what they’re saying anymore? Perhaps not so much, with ratings plummeting and networks panicked over how to save testosterone talk shows.