After 16 years of filming Late Night with Conan O'Brien
, tonight the redheaded funnyman begins his new gig as the host of The Tonight Show
. He'll be joined by Will Ferrell, musical guest Pearl Jam, and will have former Late Night
co-host Andy Richter by his side once more.
In anticipation of his Tonight
debut, many of Conan's celebrity friends--including 30 Rock
star Alec Baldwin, Apprentice
host Donald Trump, and others--offered words of encouragement and advice to O'Brien, who will have all of America watching to see how he makes the gig his own.
As O'Brien recently told the New York Times, "There's an opportunity to
put my stamp on this show. I've got an ego, and I want to do my Tonight Show
Alec Baldwin (30 Rock):
"You are in Hollywood, now, and Hollywood is about the movies. I
assume you have moved out there to launch your movie career, so here is
a tip. Hollywood loves when you are working. And I mean always working.
So, don't tell people that you just finished a movie or that you are
'about to start' a movie. Whenever people ask what you are doing, say,
'Shooting.' If they ask what you are doing over the weekend, say,
'Shooting.' What are you doing over the holiday? Say, 'Shooting.' What
are you doing to celebrate your 50th birthday? 'Shooting.' Why are you
standing here right now? 'I'm shooting the bull with you on my way to
shooting.' Hollywood will become fascinated with your every move if
they think you are constantly in demand from others. And whatever you
do, don't bring up The Tonight Show. That is just a hobby. You must always be perceived as being in the
middle of a film. If they ask what film, say what I say...'Godfather
Part Four-The Corleones in Outer Space.'"
Chelsea Handler (Chelsea Lately):
"Normally, I have an aversion towards redheads, but luckily he'll
be on late-night, so his hair color will be less unsettling. It's much
preferable to waking up next to a redhead. There's nothing worse than
having to wear sunglasses in bed."
Donald Trump (The Apprentice):
"Conan is just going to have to be himself, and I think he's going
to do wonderfully, but it's a whole different landscape than it used to
be. I think having Jay going on at 10 it'll be interesting to see how
it all works out. It could go very well, change the fabric of late
night. It could make it more difficult. I think he'll be able to handle
the pressure well, and he's got a very strong core audience. You always
have a good time on his show. [One time] he examined my hair to find
out if it was real, and he determined absolutely yes and that was a
little bit of a surprise."
Katie Couric (CBS Evening News):
"He was at the same hotel I was at in the Caribbean a number of
years ago and was so pale he was almost phosphorescent. I sent him over
a bottle of sunscreen with an spf of 70 in a bucket of ice. I think he
thought it was funny."
Bob Saget (Full House, How I Met Your Mother):
"Conan did a show from San Francisco and he and the writers had
decided to do a taped segment where he visited the "Full House" house.
He walks up to the front door, rings the bell and I answer the door. I
tell him that the whole cast ended up moving into the house after the
show went off the air. Then we recreated the opening title sequence of Full House in Golden Gate Park, with a very nice man who only spoke
Chinese playing Michelle, my youngest TV daughter.
After we were done with the shoot, we all went out to dinner and
then Conan and I went back to the hotel we were staying at, said
'goodnight,' then we kept walking to the elevator... Said 'goodnight'
again, got off at the same floor, joked about it being a funny awkward
moment, then walked side by side down the same hall. Turns out we were
basically staying in the same room. Our doorways were directly across
from each other. We said 'goodnight' again and I went into my room,
wondering if he was as frightened as I was that we could possibly hear
each other through the air vents. I did not watch the adult
entertainment On Demand channel, but I think he did. I slept in fear
the entire night."
Kathy Griffin (My Life on the D-List):
"First of all, when I met Conan he was a student at the Groundling
improv troupe school, and I assumed he'd made up the name Conan to try
to stand out, being a typical out of work comedian/writer/model. One
night we went out for pizza on what I thought was a date. Turns out it
was only a date in my mind. OR, he's never really gotten over me to the
point where he's actually married some poor woman and had children all
in an effort to make me jealous. Are we sure that's his real name?"
Don Rickles (Comedian):
"Conan is a tall wonderful late-night host, but he has to stop
dribbling around his office and telling everyone what a great
basketball player he is."
Paul F. Tompkins (Comedian):
"The last time I did Late Night I wanted to tell a funny story
about my mom's funeral, but in order to do that, I had to first let the
audience know that my mom had died. Conan was OK with me telling the
story, but told me backstage that he would rather not be the one to
introduce the idea of my dead mother. So on air, I sort of joked my way
into the story, but there was what felt like an eternity of awkwardness
before the audience was laughing again. Conan is a smart guy; if things
got that awkward when I brought it up-- and it was my mom-- it would
have been 10 times worse if Conan had to say something along the lines
of, 'So I hear your mom died. Any funny anecdotes?'"
Howie Mandel (Howie Do It, Deal or No Deal):
"Whenever I appear on Conan's show, I always find him to be a
smart, generous and funny, but most of all not as self-centered as most
of us in the business. This is the reason I am so grateful that he
would move himself, his family and the entire show to LA just to be
closer to me."
Richard Belzer (Law and Order: SVU):
"When I was on Conan many years ago he seemed like (in Tom Shales
words) an encyclopedia of human ticks...jerking all around like a
nervous puppet on a string. He asked me if my character was funny on
'SVU,' and I answered, 'Is your head gigantic?'"
Joel McHale (The Soup, Community):
"Going on Late Night with Conan O'Brien was almost like a dream
come true. The only part of the dream missing was the French kissing."
Al Roker (The Today Show):
"The great thing is that everybody underestimated Conan. He is the
red-haired freakishly-tall engine that could. He did it once and is
going to do it again."
-Meghan Carlson, BuddyTV Staff Writer
[Sources: The New York Post, The New York Times]
Image courtesy of NBC