Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Talk is cheap, and silence for Conan O'Brien may be really golden

Ah, what I wouldn't have done for a $40M dollar walk-away in exchange for not-bad mouthing a former employer. And, since most of them are out of business, there'd be no one there to hold me to the no-bad-mouthing clause.

Not that I would call anything I've said about my ex-companies bad-mouthing. Is it really bad mouthing to tattle on the late, not-so-lamented Genuity by informing the world that they spent $100K to produce a brochure with a die-cut, brushed-metal cover that was too heavy to mail, which was just as well, since the brochure was written in gibberish. (Lorem ipsum - if you're not familiar with it, that's fake Latin that designers sometimes slot in where the real text will go - would have made more sense.)

No, mainly what I do - here on occasion, and in person (especially at alumni gatherings) - is odd-mouth, weird-mouth, could-you-believe-it-mouth, foible-mouth, and WTF-mouth.

But, according to yesterday's WSJ, Conan O'Brien's being offered just that. (Access to source material may require a subscription, by the way.)

In truth, I don't really have an opinion on the entire Tonight Show kertuffle, as I don't watch the show. Ever.

What I know about Conan O'Brien is this: Brookline Mass, red, Gumby-shock hair, Harvard grad, once stalked by a mentally unbalanced priest.

This is similar in amount and kind to what I know about his predesucessorcessor, Jay Leno: Andover Mass, lantern jaw, Emerson College, collects cars and motorcycles.

In our info-chocked world, it's hard to maintain ignorance of such things, no matter how willful you are.

But I am, of course, intrigued by the $40M "silence is golden" parachute he's being offered to vacate his seat and return it to Jay Leno.

The no-bad-mouthing stipulation - called a nondisparagement clause - is interesting. Disparagement, after all, is in the ear of the beholder, is it not? And one beholder's light poke in the ribs may be another's sledgehammer to the head.

And I wonder whether the nondisparagement is a two-way treaty.

So far, it's apparently not, as one NBC exec has characterized O'Brien as "chicken-hearted", "gutless", and "an astounding failure".

Fortunately, because I'm nowhere near worth $40M worth of employer value or disparagement, I don't have to worry about much in the way of public disparagement about me by former employers. They are, of course, entitled to all the private disparagement they want. ("All those long manifestos. Sure, she made her points, but I stopped reading on page 7 single spaced." ''Talk about analysis paralysis; if she'd only stop thinking for a moment." "Did she really have to ask that question at a company meeting?" "Can't we just get her to shut up?")

Ah, but those who live in the public eye are bound to get disparaged in the public eye - and that goes for both companies and individuals.

Not that the disparagement and counter-disparagement is apt to drag on for too long. With so much comedic fodder in the universe, a year from now will anyone even get an infra dig joke about Leno-O'Brien-NBC?

Whatever the final outcome of the Conan O'Brien-NBC negotiations, I do know that I will personally benefit from Jay Leno's exiting his 10 p.m. time slot. I'm a Law & Order junkie, and 10 p.m. used to mean Law & Order, in one form or another, at least half the days of the week. So, I much look forward to their return to the docket.

Meanwhile, on behalf of the little guy, I am pleased to note that O'Brien's $40M includes some spread-around for his staff.


Clare said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
marnsmarket said...

First of all, let's get Clare's nonsense out of here. (This is why we can't have nice things.)

I'm a bit of a Leno defender; after all, six years ago he was told he HAD to leave the Tonight Show in 2009 to make room for Conan, though he was still drawing fine numbers. How come nobody came racing to HIS defense then OR now?

BUT - it AMAZES me that we can all spend so much time worrying about the fates of big-ego, VERY wealthy talking heads who probably aren't very concerned about making their next mortgage payment(s), or how new health care programs will affect them.

Unfortunately, one of the by-products of our relatively comfortable age is that we all have "discretionary" time - and too bad we choose to spend it on discussing such minutia instead of bettering our own lives in one way or another. Go to a play, people, or read a book, or, God forbid, even a NEWSPAPER if you can still find one. But do yourself a favor - don't go right to the entertainment section for more Leno/Conan tripe.

Maureen Rogers said...

Mike - Thanks for pointing out Clare's spam. Usually I'm pretty good about taking it down, but I missed this.

As for lack of Leno defenders, since I haven't been following the saga very closely, I wasn't aware that there was a disparity between in volume of defense between the two camps. Could it be that Conan's fans, since I'm guessing they are younger, are more a) apt to be riled up, and b) savvy about expressing their anger through social media?

And you are absolutely right that it's amazing the things we get our shorts in a knot about. It seems as if, if everything isn't about, or packaged as, entertainment, it just doesn't get through. (Thinking about health care is so hard; critiquing Miley Cyrus is so easy.)