The producer reflects on how he keeps up with the Saturday Night Live schedule, and how Jimmy Fallon will handle the new Tonight Show:
Conan was an easy decision for me. Both Jay and Dave were essentially my generation—they were boomers. I thought the smart move was to drop down a generation, but if you’re looking at 30 or 28, there’s no one with any experience. I’m more used to putting someone on who’s never been on television before than most people, and that was the bet with Conan. He got roughed up badly, but he came through. The mantra that I used to say to him was, “The longer you’re on, the longer you’re on.” After a while, he just became part of the landscape.
But I think there’s always an alpha, and Dave—he invented late night. Both Jimmy Kimmel and Conan grew up under Dave, to the extent that I grew up under Carson. With Jimmy, and to some degree Seth, I think they were much more influenced by SNL. Jimmy’s not ironic.