Should Conan have thought about the welfare of his staff before he said he wouldn’t move The Tonight Show to 12:05? I’m torn on this point. One of the hallmarks of a great boss/leader is that he or she looks out for the welfare of his/her employees. And supposedly getting hefty severance packages for his staff—or at least some of them—is what’s now holding up the messy Conan O’Brien/NBC divorce, which seems inevitable.
Let me say I think Conan has been treated shabbily by NBC. He is funnier than ever (being a lame duck has made him fearless), and he has handled the disintegration of his dream job with what appears to be not just heavy doses of humor but with some grace as well. And I completely buy that he believes as host of The Tonight Show, he is custodian of an institution whose heritage and traditions must be protected. But at the expense of scores of jobs for people who uprooted their lives from NYC to LA? It’s a lot easier to defend tradition when you are looking at a multi-million payout.
Then again, Conan was one of the people who from the beginning of the 2007 writer’s strike paid his staff, and maybe he can secure his employees enough severance so they can chill out until he starts a new gig somewhere and rehire them.
So, here’s my question: Is Conan being a leader by holding out for severance for his staff, or did he fail as a leader by not thinking about them before he made a decision that would put them all out of work? Tell me what you think.
And here’s what I think in a random bit of advice for Conan and David Letterman, who has been a great defender of O’Brien. If Jay Leno does resume hosting The Tonight Show, Letterman should have Conan as his first guest. Sure, Letterman could be Conan’s last guest (and I guess NBC can’t control what Conan’s guests say , so it would but fun), but everyone will watch Conan’s last show regardless of who he has on. But Dave and Conan could make sure nobody watches Jay’s first. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”…
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