Monday, June 08, 2009

Failed Talk Show Hosts

Pictured Jimmy Fallon and Conan O' Brien- Geez they both look like guys I went to high school with who'd whine about Genesis all day.

After being underimpressed with both of their debuts, I realized that they weren't the first folks to let America down in such a grand fashion. In fact, it's been done multiple times, here's just a few.





David Brenner-Nightlife- 1986-1987- This syndicated disaster barely lasted a season. Got to say it was a shock that this show failed. Brenner had been a fixture on Johnny Carson for years, even guest hosted. When the time came for his own show, it was just too darned late. The common problems cropped up including lack of guests, lack of funny and lack of having the damndest idea of what was going on. Billy Preston was the musical director.




Something About David: In preparing this diary entry, I found out that David's been lying about his age for years. 1945 was the date given for years but Brenner was actually 1936. How do you shave off 9 years? Don't know how David did it.








The Pat Sajak Show January 9, 1989 to April 13, 1990.

Got to say CBS went all out for Pat Sajak. The set looked great,m the production values were on point and only the freshest Pepsi Free was available in the green room. The problem? Pat Sajak. Sadly he just wasn't enough to make people stop watching Johnny Carson. Plus Pat's onstage manner was a bit too wise-assed, what
passed for wit while that wheel was turning became insufferable behind a desk and in front of a mug. It was lights out before it began. CBS signed up David Letterman about two years later.





Magic Johnson-The Magic Hour- Are you ready for Magic? That was the question posed in this ill-fated talk shows theme song. The answer? A resounding no. Basketball legend put his sweat band in the host arena for this rabid jackal of a TV program. What worked? Not a doggone thing. Magic, while a nice guy, isn't known as one of the world's raconteur. In fact there are times when he's not all that intelligible at all. That's great for a talk show host.


Notes: Nope, that's not a clip from the Arsenio Hall Show. Seems like Magic's friend Arsenio was such an inspiration, Magic's set looked like it a replica of Hall's design. Reportedly Magic still does the show in his basement, introducing Busta Rhymes, telling jokes to Sheila E. His family is ok with it. Vibe w/Kevin Spencer, Keenan Ivory Wayans are a few of the failed yak fests of the era.
The Danger Zone (see below)

Jimmy Fallon- Late Night With Jimmy Fallon- This isn't ready to greet Chevy Chase in the auto graveyard of talk shows but it's coming on strong. Since Fallon inherited Conan O' Brien's slot the show clearly has identity problems. It doesn't know what to be. The best shows so far have been nasty, irreverent and just silly. If it keeps that up, it will succeed. Also better guests are needed. You know folks the kids like Bobby Sherman, Paul Revere and the Raiders, the hip set.

Grade ** 1/2



Janeane Garofolo did a great appearance on the show not too long ago. And in turn Jimmy Fallon wasn't even annoying.






The Tonight Show with Conan O' Brien- This show has promise too, the promise of being a failure. And like Jimmy Fallon's, it probably won't be canceled so we'll go through these growing pains together. From what I've seen this is basically the biggest culture shock ever. Does Conan even want to be in LA? I haven't seen anyone this ill-suited to be on the West Coast since Beverly Hills Buntz. Conan go back home!


The Problems: A few. The show is basically a bloated version of his late show. The guests still aren't great and Andy Richter's here again.

Grade ***
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