Conan O’Brien’s Buyout Rivals that of Our Fearless Banking Leaders

Matt Kiebus :: Tuesday, January 19th, 2010 4:00 pm

The controversy surrounding The Tonight Show and the utter disarray of NBC has been a popular topic the past two weeks. Conan O’Brien is being unceremoniously dumped by NBC as host of The Tonight Show in favor of the painfully unfunny and backstabbing Jay Leno. It seems the majority of people that own a computer support the gangly red-head, but all the viral support seems futile as The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien will most likely be ending this Friday, January 22nd.

Don’t be too sad though, Conando is coming out as the big winner here. Over the past two weeks Leno’s stock as a “good guy” has taken a tremendous hit. His egomaniacal personality has exponentially risen to full-blown Wall Street douchebag levels. Conan can now escape the impending doom that faces NBC. And he’s walking away with $32.5 million dollars in his pocket, some nice coin for getting fired. Another $7.5 million will be divided amongst his writers and staff.

Being paid that much money for doing a mediocre job (nearly a 50% decrease in ratings from Leno last year) bears resemblance to the polar opposite of the entertainment industry. Yep, our awesome banking system. Remember way back in 2008 when we started to realize just how shitty the US economy was? Back when The Dark Knight was dominating the box office, and George Bush was chillin’ at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave?

Fat cats sitting in big leather chairs decided, rather than being thrown under the bus for destroying our nation’s economy and job market, they cashed out and retired. These executives who were at the forefront of the recession were rewarded handsomely for their piss-poor leadership and bad long-division skills. E. Stanley O’Neil, former CEO of Merrill Lynch, walked away receiving $161 million dollars. “Thanks for fucking us over, here’s enough money to buy half of the Caribbean.”

The funny part is O’Neil actually felt he deserved that money. “As a result of the extraordinary growth at Merrill during my tenure as CEO the board saw fit to increase my compensation each year.” (nytimes)What an asshole statement. People have been losing jobs, college funds, and homes over the past couple years and he has the balls to say he earned a $161 million dollar severance check.

These “golden parachutes” were being handed out like candy from October of 2007 to September of 2008. Charles Prince of Citigroup walked away with $105 million. Kerry Killinger and Alan Fishman left Washington Mutual with $44 and $19 million respectively. The list continues on for days. And this doesn’t even include random expenses, such as $357,000 for O’Neil’s personal use of car services and the company airplane.

The only CEO that didn’t accept the exit-package offered was former AIG CEO Robert Willumstad. He declined a $22 million dollar pat on the back for a job well done. I don’t think anyone’s heart bleeds for Mr. Willumstad or the other executives of AIG.

Now the real question is, what separates Conan O’Brien and his $40 million dollar severance package from the O’Neil’s and Willumstad’s of the world?

Simply, he didn’t fuck us over. People across the country are rallying behind O’Brien because he is an extremely public, easily likeable figure who is being unjustly laid off. The majority of unemployed Americans can relate to that helplessness of getting unjustly fired.

Acceptance by the American people is a very powerful thing, it helps people overlook and even agree with the payment Conan is receiving to leave NBC. Money paid to entertainers isn’t nearly as tangible to American taxpayers as money in banks. Watching CEO’s of failed companies get rewarded with our paychecks, builds hate and distrust. After seeing these corrupt imbeciles help ruin our economy, I’m surprised more people (other than drug dealers) don’t keep their money in shoeboxes and mattresses.

O’Brien never seemed too worried about the money from NBC, whether he actually is or not I have no idea, but it is important that he doesn’t appear to the American public as greedy. During the writers strike in 2008 O’Brien paid his staff out of his own pocket, which shows he doesn’t have a history of being selfish.

Since NBC started playing Jenga with their late night schedule last week, O’Brien’s ratings have skyrocketed. Last Friday O’Brien toped Letterman and even Leno’s primetime show. It makes no difference though — too little too late. The average host’s reign on The Tonight Show is 13 years, granted Carson (30 years) and Leno (17) throw off the curve a bit, but Conan O’Brien only had seven months.

While Conan is clearly in a different tax bracket as most unemployed Americans, he has unintentionally found himself as the voice for a large contingent of this country, the jobless. His job is to make us laugh before we go to sleep at night, and that makes him infinitely more likeable than people we trust with our paychecks.

6 Responses to “Conan O’Brien’s Buyout Rivals that of Our Fearless Banking Leaders”
  1. “Kids, you can be anything you want to be…unless Jay Leno wants to be that too.”

    Nice work, Matt.

    Posted by: Annmarie January 19th, 2010 at 5:13 pm
  2. Are you trying to change his nickname from “Coco” to “Conando”. I hope it sticks, for Conan’s sake.

    Posted by: Luke January 21st, 2010 at 2:01 am
  3. I’m with COCO!!!

    Posted by: Dizon January 21st, 2010 at 2:31 am
  4. Conando was actually Conan’s creation for the LA spanish community.

    Posted by: Matt Kiebus January 21st, 2010 at 4:01 pm
  5. Why blame Leno? Blame NBC and the nitwits that screwed Conan out of his successful late night gig and put him on the Tonight Show

    Posted by: Russ January 21st, 2010 at 4:16 pm
  6. It’s tough not to see Leno as the culprit in the situation. He originally acquiesced to NBC’s demands 5 years ago, then allegedly about faced and mentioned he might go to another network, which reasonably freaked NBC out. Had he just retired, Conan’s removal would never had materialized — he would just have been a late night comic with bad rating, which ostensibly would have improved over time.

    But with broadcasters losing so much advertising to the Internet and cable, the brand needed to act quickly. Maybe late night comics can’t wait years for their show to ferment any longer, no matter how talented a host like Conan may be.

    Posted by: Stephen Blackwell January 21st, 2010 at 4:59 pm