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Green Bay Press-Gazette

Monday, January 25, 2010

Conan's 'Freebird' farewell scores big

Unlike that Brett Favre guy (sorry, Vikings fans), Conan O'Brien really is going out on top.

Preliminary Nielsen ratings suggest that O’Brien won a hefty audience for his final hour hosting “The Tonight Show.” Coco scored a 7.0 rating for Friday night's farewell appearance on NBC, compared to a 2.5 rating for CBS’ “Late Show with David Letterman."

Slight vindication perhaps, but it'll be interesting to see whether Conan's audience remains loyal in whatever new venture he chooses to pursue later this year. And not just for the first couple of episodes, mind you.

Despite NBC bungling the entire late night situation, perhaps this is a lesson to Conan's devoted followers that you can't take anything for granted. Better ratings might have led to Leno's ouster, instead.

As for Conan's final show, the hour zipped by with a few nice touches -- Steve Carell conducting an exit interview, Tom Hanks being his typical wacky self and a quick montage of best "Tonight Show" moments. But Conan saved his best for last, particularly during a heartfelt, classy closing monologue where he asked the audience to not be cynical about his predicament -- or anything else for that matter.

"I hate cynicism -- it's my least favorite quality and it doesn't lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen. I'm telling you, amazing things will happen."

That segued into a jammin' "Freebird"-for-all alongside Will Ferrell, Beck, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top and Ben Harper. Unexpected, awesome and with more cowbell than you could ever want.

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,



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