You think Conan O'Brien's sticking with the beard so he has cover in case tonight's TBS launch goes badly?
Nobody knows better than O'Brien, after all, how talk shows--even good ones--can go splat. After you check out our list, you'll know, too:
1. The Chevy Chase Show: Now that the Saturday Night Live icon is back in the good graces of the Community, you'd think we'd all be able to laugh fondly at that little late-night misfire of his. You'd think that. Until you rewatch a clip. And cringe all over again. And to think, this went on, night after night, for six loooooong weeks.
2. The Magic Hour: You know how many otherwise-successful folks have hosted short-lived talk shows? More than the likes of Sharon Osbourne would like to recount. What distinguished Magic Johnson's flameout was his--and/or his producers'--desperation to book Howard Stern so that he, Stern, could explain everything that he, Magic, was doing wrong. At least Magic succeeded in one regard: He made The Chevy Chase Show seem watchable in comparison.
3. The David Letterman Show: Remember: Not all disasters are equally disastrous. This show, for instance, was, like its then-fledgling host, smart, ironic--and completely out of place in the a.m. Check it out: Letterman even looks sleepy in the opening titles. That the experiment lasted only about four months was good--for Letterman, for late night and for all the shut-ins angry that Dave had messed with Card Sharks.
4. The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers: When she got the gig, Johnny Carson shunned her. When she lost the gig, her husband committed suicide. Oh, we can't bear to tell the whole terrible table--so we'll let Rivers do it.
5. The Jay Leno Show/The Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien: Well, on the upside, nobody died... Plus, we got O'Brien's nifty beard out of the whole, network-mismanaged deal.