Vanity Fair has posted an excerpt of our friend Bill Carter’s book about the NBC Jay Leno-Conan O’Brien disaster, called "The War for Late Night," and it’s filled with the juiciest of dialog and details.
Carter, The New York Times’ longtime reporter on the TV beat, is truly an expert on the late-night daypart, having previously written a bestseller on the battle royale between Jay Leno and David Letterman to replace Johnny Carson.
In this part of the new book that Vanity Fair excerpts, Carter writes that during negotiations, for instance, outgoing NBC Universal president Jeff Zucker called O’Brien’s agent, Rick Rosen, asking for an answer to NBC’s proposal that O’Brien be shifted back after midnight to accommodate Leno’s return to late-night.
Zucker suspected O’Brien’s camp was leaking to the press, and warned the agent, "Just let me tell you something: You are not going to fucking play me," the article says. O’Brien announced a couple of days later that he wouldn’t follow Leno at 12:05 a.m.
In other details, O’Brien keeps asking NBC executives, "What does Jay have on you?” and "What does this guy have on you people? What the hell is it about Jay?”
BONUS READ: And since the weekend is coming up, after you read the Carter excerpt, here’s another, non-TV story, that you might want to catch up on.
It’s an absolutely fascinating recent New York magazine feature article by Robert Kolker–whom we don’t personally know–about why people would confess to crimes, including murder, that they didn’t commit. Click here to read that feature article.