In: Conan. Though Conan is congentially incapable of acquiring a tan, the sun still shines on him. Last night the late-night talker scored an astonishing (for his time period) 7.1 rating, 154 percent ahead of 2nd place Letterman, which averaged a 2.8. Letterman usually had the more attractive demographic in the old scheme of things, while Leno had the sheer numbers. Conan, however, has a good chance at capturing both, driving poor Letterman into an even deeper melancholic hue. From Variety:
"Conan O'Brien's premiere on NBC's hallowed 'The Tonight Show' produced the show's best Monday overnight rating in four years, standing as the evening's top-rated program -- late night or primetime.
"Three nights after Jay Leno averaged a monster 8.8 household rating/20 share in Nielsen's metered-market overnights, 'The Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien' bowed with a 7.1 rating/17 share. The rating represents an 82% improvement over the second-quarter average of 'Tonight' (3.9) in the nation's 56 biggest markets.
"This is the best Monday delivery for 'The Tonight Show' since a January 2005 telecast featuring a special tribute to Johnny Carson. And it ranks as the seventh-highest Monday for the program since Leno took over 'Tonight' in 1992."
Still, this is only the first-week hype. Let's see if Conan can pull comparable numbers after the media attention fades. And in further sad Letterman news -- is there any other kind: In the 2008-2009 ratings, "Nightline" came in second to The Tonight Show with Leno in late night, topping Late Show with David Letterman for the first time in six years. Poor David.
Out: Tim Giethner. Historians of the future may look back and find that the moment that T-Sec Geithner was cascaded with the laughter of college students in China as he tried to instill confidence of the U.S. economy as the precise moment that America's decline coincided with the rise of China. Let's hope not. I think we still have some time, but Russia's increased calls for an alternative world currency, weakening the dollar, augur darkly.
In: Wall Street 2. Is it just me, or is anyone else completely gaga over the idea of a Wall Street sequel incorporating The Great Recession? And I don't even like Oliver Stone. From Nikki Finke's DeadlineHollywoodDaily:
"I'm told that screenwriter Allan Loeb (21, Things We Lost In The Fire) will hand in his second draft of the long-awaited Wall Street 2 to 20th Century Fox later this week. (Although the great Stanley Weiser and his film school pal Oliver Stone were credited as writers of the original pic, Stephen Schiff was first to script the sequel.) I heard Loeb's first draft was "so great" that Stone didn't feel the need to touch it -- yet. But no one expects the director to keep hands off on the second draft since principal photography starts on August 10th. The film's release is now planned for February 2010. So here's the oh-so-secret plot of Wall Street 2 and who's playing what:
"Michael Douglas, as everyone already knows, reprises his Best Actor Oscar-winning role as Gordon Gekko. But what hasn't been reported is that, as the movie begins, it's 21 years later and Mr. Greed Is Good has finished serving his prison sentence. He finds himself on the fringe of the financial community. ('Kinda like Jim Cramer or Mike Milken after their disgrace,' an insider with the pic tells me.) Gekko is cautioning Wall Street that the "end is coming" -- but nobody is listening. So Gordon is obsessed with trying to repair his ruptured relationship with his daughter. That juicy actress role isn't cast yet. (But I'd love it if Oliver had the balls to bring back Sean Young as Mom in spite of their notorious falling out during the filming of the original.)
"Enter Shia LaBeouf, who was reported in negotiations and I can now state is set to co-star. (I've said it before, and I'll say it again: one day every Hollywood movie will star this guy who turns 23 on June 11th.) Shia is a young Wall Street trader who's engaged to be married to Gekko's estranged daughter."
So. There. More here.
Out: Time Warner's Magazine Division. Henry Luce is flipping in his grave. He would neither have imagined the end of America's ascent, nor the growing irrelevance of his magazines. From Paidcontent:
"Now that Time Warner is finally spinning off AOL, its publishing division could be the next to go, says Pali Research analyst Rich Greenfield in a report this morning. Greenfield says that CEO Jeff Bewkes and the company’s board of directors are not emotionally attached to its various businesses. He writes, 'With publishing set to represent under 10% of Time Warner’s EBITDA post-AOL ... and the inherent difficulties of shifting Time Inc.’s magazine business to an online subscription model, we believe it may make sense to further simplify Time Warner down to only cable networks and filmed entertainment in 2010.'"
Luce's beloved magazine division -- which, ironically, heralded "The American Century" -- is, in the age of the rising second world, largely irrelevant. Time magazine, largely unrecognizable from what Luce began, is essentially now a sophisticated opinion journal a la TNR. And anyone who knows the history of American journals of opinion knows how profoundly unprofitable -- though intellectually influential -- is that species of media. It is not inconceivable that a magazine like Time might be charitably purchased by someone like a David Geffen, seeking to keep an American institution going without thought of making money.