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I Was with Coco
August 25, 2010 10:06 AM   Subscribe

I Was with Coco. "If you’ve ever seen a criminal standing before a firing squad and felt jealous of all the attention he was receiving, then you would have loved writing for Conan O’Brien." [via]
A year ago, Todd Levin got the job of a lifetime—writing for 'The Tonight Show.' Nine months later, he was packing his desk. Now he recounts what it was really like: helping reboot a fifty-six-year-old franchise; watching his boss, Conan O'Brien, get screwed; and saying good-bye to the funniest late-night show to barely exist.
posted by kirkaracha (29 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Today's Conan looked drained. He entered the studio unceremoniously, dressed in a leather jacket and baseball hat—like someone getting ready to leave—then slumped into the guest couch and fixed his gaze on the far wall as he addressed us, never really making eye contact. It was a sight that shook your faith a little, like seeing your dad on crutches.

Awwww, not my Cone-Bone!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:12 AM on August 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Tremble was one of my favorite blogs ever, but it's been complete silence since Levin's move to LA. I hope he starts blogging again.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:14 AM on August 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


It sounded like this was gonna be a takedown piece at first.
posted by anazgnos at 10:17 AM on August 25, 2010


Awwww, not my Cone-Bone!

You know, TPS, you wrote that for everyone to see, on the internet? That's a pretty personal pet name for Conan. Just sayin'.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:20 AM on August 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Who is Conan O'Brien, and why is she so sad?
posted by Navelgazer at 10:27 AM on August 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


"We were writing for a completely new show—one that was honest and edgy, and surprisingly mainstream. Conan's Gospel of Fun, for all its simplicity, worked."

It's true, those last shows were really great. I hope Conan's new show is something like that.
posted by amethysts at 10:36 AM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


When I first heard the name Conan O'Brien, I thought it must be a stage name. The obvious risk his parents took in giving him that name certainly paid off. Little Conan grew up to become a Heroic Comedy WARRIOR taller than two ordinary men, with steely gaze and and awesome powers of comedy reach and grasp. Those NBC execs who double-crossed him behind his back in the night deserve cowards' deaths.
posted by longsleeves at 10:47 AM on August 25, 2010


Coney-Baloney and I have an understanding.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:48 AM on August 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


Perhaps this writer should be a novelist. Sheesh! Sometimes less is more (funny).
posted by punkfloyd at 10:51 AM on August 25, 2010


He is Conan, O'Brien, he won't cry, so I cry for him.
posted by kmz at 10:53 AM on August 25, 2010 [7 favorites]


Cone-Bone!

I thought it was just Fone, Phoney, and Smiley?
posted by kmz at 10:55 AM on August 25, 2010 [8 favorites]


I now to imagine that there was really tall Bone character with an odd shock of red hair hidden in some frames of Bone.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:05 AM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


We'd sometimes receive writing assignments from Sweeney that were both highly specific and utterly vague: "We need ideas that require Conan to walk outside the studio, right after the monologue." "Looking for ideas for Justin Timberlake today—must be golf-related."
Heh.

Is his new show even on yet? If not, when does it start? It will be interesting to see how many of his fans follow him onto basic cable.
posted by delmoi at 11:10 AM on August 25, 2010


Is his new show even on yet? If not, when does it start?

November. See this Python-esque animated promo (YT).
posted by supercres at 11:27 AM on August 25, 2010


Potato Judge (in case you were wondering).
posted by Kattullus at 11:37 AM on August 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


So why are pictures called ADDAs?
posted by Obscure Reference at 11:42 AM on August 25, 2010


I Was with Coco.

Goddamnit. I thought another Yacht Rock installment was out.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:13 PM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: like a Mount Rushmore of incompetence.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 12:39 PM on August 25, 2010


So why are pictures called ADDAs?

Attention Deficit Disorder Antidotes, I guess.
posted by Skeptic at 12:58 PM on August 25, 2010


They're only called that if they're hard copy prints of digital pics.

Analog>Digital>Digital>Analog
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 1:27 PM on August 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


That was actually sweet and positive.

Spoilers: No Leno bashing, working for Conan was work, but very fun work much of the time.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:40 PM on August 25, 2010


Todd Levin never fails to entertain me. I used to read Tremble.com slavishly and would make terrible sounds as I tried to suppress guffaws in my cube at work.

When I heard Conan's run was ending I wondered what Todd would get up to. I hope he gets a similarly high-profile gig.

Here's a video he made that busts me up.
posted by Kafkaesque at 1:45 PM on August 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Conan discovers Sir Ian McKellen backstage, running an illegal cockfighting ring."

Awesome.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 2:05 PM on August 25, 2010


Meanwhile, on twitter (where Cone-Bone had ruled semi-supreme a few months ago), he is engaged in the fight of his cyber-life. LeVar Burton, who was previously challenged to a popularity contest by Michael Ian Black that became known as LeWar, has reportedly turned to the offensive in challenging The Wacky Redhead to LE WAR II. I mean, Conan's cool, but he never had to fight slavery, illiteracy, Romulans AND Wil Wheaton.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:52 PM on August 25, 2010


Is his new show even on yet? If not, when does it start?

November. See this Python-esque animated promo (YT).
posted by supercres at 11:27 AM on August 25 [+] [!]


To me, it's more You Can't Do That On Television than Python. Granted, YCDTOTV's opener is pretty my based on Python itself, but the Cobalt O'Banyon promo pulls more directly from the former than the latter.
posted by cerulgalactus at 3:19 PM on August 25, 2010


I'm sticking with the guy who DIDN'T wear a banana clip on his face for seven years.
posted by Gator at 3:23 PM on August 25, 2010


You've all been had. The entire CoCo escapade was a massive Kaufman-esque prank.
posted by humanfont at 4:04 PM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I also liked Paley Center's interviews with the Conan writers:

Conan as a boss
The Ventrilo-Choir
Trip to Finland
Celebrity guests
The monologue
Playing Frankenstein
Rehearsals
Getting booed
Silent audience
Worst sketches
posted by shadytrees at 8:30 AM on August 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Conan made an unexpected appearance in the writers' room Monday morning. His daily visits had dried up since the bad news started to trickle in, but today he sat among us and spoke briefly about his disappointment and his options. Then he polled the room, asking each of us what we'd do: take the 12:05 a.m. time slot the network was offering or get out. Nearly unanimously, we favored cutting and running. Everyone thought it was a terrible offer and that we were being set up to fail. Before he got up to leave, Conan confessed, "I think they cured me of my addiction to The Tonight Show."

I keep waiting for the bottom to fall out of my respect for Mr. O'Brien -- that some little piece of information will make me feel like I shouldn't have been so outraged on his behalf about this whole ordeal (besides the whole "does late night TV really matter in the grand scheme of what you should feel outraged about in this world?") -- but it keeps not happening. In fact, the more I hear, the more all that Team Coco ridiculousness seems more than appropriate and maybe not quite enough. What's sad is that this happens because he didn't do this by being an outstanding human being, just by being a decent one.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:03 PM on August 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


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