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Vince Vitrano: Not For Broadcast



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It's interesting how people ask. Do they call it the Conan thing or the Leno thing?

I've gotten a lot of questions about what I think about the Conan vs. Leno "thing" that played out so publicly right here on TODAY'S TMJ4.

I'm not picking sides. I'm not sure I have a side. I'll just offer some thoughts on the various angles to this story.

I've never had the pleasure of meeting Jay Leno, but Conan O'Brien sure seems like a decent guy. He stopped here at 720 East Capitol Drive last summer while promoting the switch to the Tonight Show.

What struck me about his visit, was the time he spent chatting with people here at the station. He walked around the newsroom. He posed for pictures. He cracked jokes. He was Conan. He made a point to go beyond talking to on air people like Mike, Carole, Susan and me.

He talked with all the behind the scenes people, and made everyone's day. He seems to have an appreciation for all the work people do off camera. He reportedly worked very hard to secure money for his staff and crew in the settlement he reached with NBC. This guy walks the walk.

Jay will rise again. I've got nothing bad to say about Jay Leno either. I know, I sound like the company man. Let's be honest. These decisions are made at levels far higher than my silly self, so there's no pressure here to tow the company line.

Jay Leno is very popular here in Milwaukee, and I believe having him back at the Tonight Show can be successful, particularly if NBC makes improvements to its prime time lineup.

A lot has been made of the "failure" of the new Leno show. My humble opinion was just that it was the wrong show at the wrong time in the wrong format. It wasn't that people don't still like Jay. I sure hope I'm right about that.

Conan will be fine, but I do feel for him.  In one of his news releases during the ongoing saga, Conan implored his fans to waste no time feeling badly for him. He's right. Kids with cancer is something to feel badly about. Multi-millionaires making uncomfortable business deals ought not drive us to tears.

That said, here's why I do feel for Conan. It wasn't about the money. The guy was rich before he took over the Tonight Show, and he'll be rich after. It's not about that.

I just respect that Conan O'Brien was a man with a dream. He worked, albeit doing a job he loved, but he worked his entire career to reach a goal. He finally made it. It was all happening for him. He had achieved his dream, and then it collapsed before he really had a chance to live his dream.

So that's what I think of the Conan thing... or the Leno thing... depending on how you see it. I'm hopeful both of them can continue to be successful however things go from here on out. I'm happy to entertain your thoughts on the subject. 


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