You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Late Night with Conan O’Brien

Guests: John Goodman, Drew Barrymore, Tony Randall.

Host: Conan O'Brien Sidekick: Andy Richter Announcer: Joel Goddard Band: Max Weinberg, Jimmy Vivino, Scott Healy, "La Bamba," Mark "Love Man" Pender, Jerry Vivino, Mike Merritt.

Guests: John Goodman, Drew Barrymore, Tony Randall.

With: Tom Brokaw, George Wendt, Bob Costas.

While the opening night of latenight newcomer Conan O’Brien was far from an unqualified success, it at least shows promise. Host has his own distinctive style, and is more viewer-friendly than Jay Leno, less acerbic than David Letterman. Chief obstacle so far is O’Brien’s all-but-overwhelming nervousness; once he gets over that, the 12:35 slot could prove to be a comfortable, entertaining way to end the evening — or, for those who keep really late hours, an appetizer for Bob Costas’ fans.

O’Brien, a newcomer to performing before a live audience, took every opportunity Monday night to kid his inexperience, beginning with a show-opening montage following him from bed, through the day, to the studio. Every stop along the way, someone would remind him that he was embarking on a near-hopeless task: When he stopped at a newsstand, the dummied-up New York Post headline read “Conan Had Better Be Good.”

Tom Brokaw’s walk-on (“I just wanted to be the first to welcome you to NBC”) provided a nice counterpoint to his spot on David Letterman’s CBS premiere last week.

Show went largely downhill during live segments, with prepared material — such as a bit lambasting Letterman and Leno’s “Small Town News” and “Headlines” segments — coming off far better than ad-libbed sequences.

The monologue was weak, with a couple of OK lines (friends ridiculed him, “The day you get your own talkshow is the day there’s peace in the Middle East”) and too much dead air.

First guest John Goodman proved to be a good sport. He indulged the host’s inane questions about upcoming “Flintstones,” saved a bit that compared him to Mr. Potato Head, and demonstrated leg-wrestling with cameo guest George Wendt.

Drew Barrymore may have drawn more attention with her nouveau Tuesday Weld hair and makeup than for anything she said, and Tony Randall proved his usual prickly self, deriding the leg-wrestling segment, which O’Brien then defended as being amusing if only to himself.

“When you pander to your audience, that’s no good,” allowed Randall in mock affirmation. “You should stick to your artistic conscience, such as it is, and do what amuses you.”

Stage set has a nice ’50s feel, and former Springsteen drummer Max Weinberg leads a powerful, R&B/swing-influenced band. Sidekick Andy Richter jumped in with a few good lines. Closing sequence — O’Brien bringing members of the audience, including a nun and a Nazi, to tears with his rendition of “Edelweiss” from “The Sound of Music”– vied with opening montage as opening show’s strongest moment. O’Brien’s overall good nature and obtuse sense of humor may be his most effective attributes when the rough spots are overcome.

Late Night with Conan O'Brien

(Tues.-Sat., 12:35-1:35 a.m., NBC)

Production: Videotaped in New York City by Broadway Video Prods. in association with NBC Prods. Executive producer, Lorne Michaels; producers, Jeff Ross, Robert Smigel; segment producers, Frank Smiley, Michael Weinberg; director, Dana Calderwood; head writer, Smigel; writers, Louis C.K., Amir Gollan, Michael Gordon, Marsh McCall, Conan O'Brien, Bob Odenkirk, Dave Reynolds, Andy Richter, Smigel, Dino Stamatopoulos.

Crew: Lighting consultant, Phil Hymes; set design, Eugene Lee, Keith Ian Raywood, Akira Yoskimura; musical director, Max Weinberg.

Cast: Host: Conan O'Brien Sidekick: Andy Richter Announcer: Joel Goddard Band: Max Weinberg, Jimmy Vivino, Scott Healy, "La Bamba," Mark "Love Man" Pender, Jerry Vivino, Mike Merritt.

More TV

  • Arrow -- "Fadeout" -- Image Number:

    TV Ratings: 'Arrow' Signs Off to Low Numbers

    The CW was likely hoping that “Arrow” would sign off with a TV ratings bullseye, but the series finale failed to draw a large audience missed the mark a little. Stephen Amell officially brought out his bow one last time, and 723,000 total viewers tuned in to watch, which represents almost a 20% drop from [...]

  • 'The Quest': Disney Plus Revives ABC

    'The Quest' Revived as Disney Plus Brings Back ABC Fantasy Reality Show (EXCLUSIVE)

    Disney Plus is reviving “The Quest,” a critically acclaimed but short-lived fantasy reality series that aired on ABC in summer 2014. Casting is under way for a new version of the series, which will now focus on teenage contestants. “The Amazing Race” executive producers Bertram van Munster and Elise Doganieri are back as executive producers [...]

  • John Stankey

    AT&T's John Stankey: TNT, TBS to Boost Unscripted Volume as WarnerMedia Invests in HBO Max

    The march to the launch of HBO Max in May is driving changes across WarnerMedia. John Stankey, AT&T chief operating officer and WarnerMedia chairman, told investors on Wednesday that cable powerhouses TNT and TBS will lean into more unscripted programming as WarnerMedia steers its investment in high-end scripted programming to the nascent subscription streaming platform. [...]

  • BBC to Cut 450 Jobs in

    BBC to Cut 450 Jobs in News Division

    The BBC is to cut 450 jobs in its news operation as part of a cost-cutting exercise. The BBC, which remains the U.K.’s most widely consumed source of news, said it planned to reorganize its newsroom along a “story-led” model, focusing on news stories more than on programs or platforms. This is designed to reduce [...]

  • Bud Light Super Bowl Ad

    Bud Light Asks Super Bowl Viewers to Pick the Ad They Want to See

    Most Super Bowl advertisers put a glitzy commercial in the game and hope for the best. Anheuser-Busch wants viewers to have a stake in the pitch that gets presented on Game Day. Bud Light made two different ads starring Post Malone, and is asking fans to help pick which of the pair ought to run [...]

  • good-morning-america-strahan

    At 'Good Morning America,' Robin Roberts Maintains Her 'X-Factor'

    Robin Roberts used to play basketball in college. She says she’s still building muscles while working at “Good Morning America.” The ABC morning program is many things all at once. It’s a news program. It’s a pillar of the economics of ABC’s parent Walt Disney. And increasingly these days, it is a broader media entity [...]

  • Gabrielle Carteris SAG AFRA PRESIDENT

    SAG-AFTRA Unveils Guidelines for Intimacy Coordinators

    SAG-AFTRA has unveiled the guidelines for intimacy coordinators who are on sets when union members’ work involves nudity and simulated sex. The union released “Standards and Protocols for the Use of Intimacy Coordinators” on Wednesday, six months after announcing that it would standardize the guidelines for such scenes. “SAG-AFTRA believes that implementation of these standards [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content