After seven years of watching the Peacock Network mishandle, not to mention unceremoniously cancel our beloved SCRUBS, creator Bill Lawrence knows a thing or two about bumbling NBC executives.
Which is probably why he summed up his reaction to Conan O’Brien’s current situation in a media scrum following the “Comedy Showrunners Panel” at the Television Critics Association Press Tour in Pasadena with one simple word: “Schadenfreude!”
“Whether you’re a Jay [Leno] fan or not, it just really makes you cross your fingers and hope that Conan finds some success and make them [NBC] pay for it,” said the always opinionated and equally entertaining Lawrence.
“I thought it was a short-sighted move from an entity [NBC] that doesn’t love television, when they should love television if that’s what they’re in the business of.” He continued. “From a straight business standpoint, Jay Leno doing THE TONIGHT SHOW, doing the numbers he used to pull in and hopefully continuing to beat Letterman is what’s best for now. Do I think it’s best for the long term? Not personally, but I understand the move. [That said] as a writer, you look for the light at end of the rainbow, or whatever the cliché is. [At least now] there are going to be opportunities on NBC for scripted TV and the bar has been set fairly low so you’ll be reading press blurbs like, ‘This new drama outperformed the same night last year by 1000 percent!”
While not a close enough friend of O’Brien’s to personally phone him up, Lawrence did say that he feels compelled to send an email of support.
“Comedies writers are all talking about this today. For a lot of us it made us question, if we essentially would have the balls to do the same thing because we all have faced similar situations,” explained Lawrence. “Conan O’Brien is too talented and too good a guy to have to pay for somebody else’s mistake. He deserved his shot and I think I would have been disappointed as a fan had he kind of walked back with his tail between his legs because he didn’t deserve this.”
And just how would the writer in Lawrence handle tonight’s hotly anticipated TONIGHT SHOW WITH CONAN O’BRIEN monologue?
“I would attack, I would be as self-deprecating as possible because you certainly don’t want to get into a fight that you can’t win,” said Lawrence. “Conan’s comedic strength is taking shots at himself, that’s why I love the guy. He’s as humble a talk show host as you’ll see out there. I just think the drag is in the scheme of things, the amount of time that he had to find the show and get it going was not fair. Just not fair.”
Kind of like how ABC is currently burning off episodes of SCRUBS. But we’ll save that post for another day.