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David Letterman beats Conan O'Brien in ratings and Emmy races

July 17, 2009 | 12:57 pm

David Letterman is now beating new "Tonight Show" host Conan O'Brien in the ratings on a fairly consistent basis. On Wednesday, Letterman welcomed Paul McCartney back to the Ed Sullivan Theater after 45 years and outdrew O'Brien by almost 2 million viewers.

David Letterman Late Show Emmy Awards Ratings Conan O'Brien Tonight Show TV news 1357986

Thursday, "Late Show With David Letterman" earned five Emmy nominations while the final season of "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" managed just one nod. And pity poor Jay Leno, who was snubbed by the Emmys for his farewell year hosting the "Tonight Show."

"Late Show" contends once again for best variety comedy music series. The CBS late-night talk show hosted by David Letterman has competed in this Emmy race every year since its debut season. "Late Show" won the Emmy for its first year in 1994, and then again for five consecutive years beginning in 1998. In addition, it has won three technical Emmys for a total haul of nine awards out of 59 previous nominations.

It took Conan O'Brien a full decade of hosting "Late Night" before the show landed its first Emmy nomination in the variety comedy music series category in 2003. It contended unsuccessfully in that race for five years, always losing to "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart." Last year and this, "Late Night" lost its slot to the resurgent "Saturday Night Live."

O'Brien and his writing staff finally won an Emmy in 2007 after being also-rans every year from 1996 to 2004 and then again in 2006. That is the only Emmy won by "Late Night" out of 28 previous nominations. Last year, the "Late Night" writers lost to the team behind "The Colbert Report" and they are back in the race this year, up against the same roster of talent, including the scribes from "Colbert Report," "Late Show" and "SNL."

Letterman won four consecutive Emmys as part of the writing team on the original "Late Night" beginning in 1984 and has been a perennial writing nominee for "Late Show." Jay Leno and his team of gag writers were snubbed by the Emmys for the entire run of his version of the "Tonight Show."

During Leno's 17 years at the helm, this NBC late-night staple won just one Emmy for best variety comedy series. That was back in 1995 and the last of the show's nine nods in that race was in 2003. Add in three technical wins and the "Tonight Show With Jay Leno" managed to take home just four Emmys out of 40 nods.

Photo credit: CBS


List of Emmy nominations

Emmy nominations: '30 Rock' explosion, '24' implosion, 'Family Guy' wreaks havoc, newcomers snubbed in expanded series races

How the Emmy pundits scored (hey, where's my lollipop?!)

Emmy nominations: The good, the bad and the ugly (Boomer's view)

Emmy nominations: The good, the bad and the ugly (Rob L's view)

Comedy series lead acting races: By the numbers

Emmy lead actor in a drama series: By the numbers

Emmy lead actress in a drama series: By the numbers

First-time Emmy nominees include Oscar, Grammy and Tony champs

Justin Timberlake contends for three Emmy Awards

Farrah Fawcett receives posthumous Emmy Award nomination for 'Farrah's Story'

Another Emmy jaw-dropper! Where's Jeremy Piven?

Four jaw-dropping Emmy snubs

Emmy nominations: Who got skunked!

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The comments to this entry are closed.


Letterman was, is and will be a brilliant character!

NEWSFLASH!!! NEWSFLASH!!! Conan is refreshing to the "younger viewers" cough cough or the 18 to 49 crowd because he's not selling out to the underdeveloped sense of humor that most 40+ year olds have. Where do you think these quote/unquote ratings come from?

Of course letterman wins all of the awards. He is a hardcore liberal and they eat that crap up. I am from Indiana where dave is from and wouldnt watch him with a gun to my head. He is discustingly political in his show. Conan is not. Everyone is fair game to conan so he makes obama jokes which the la times hates so they bash conan. Dont believe everything you read in the paper. These papers are written by the most liberal people ever. Conan is far more clever and witty than letterman ever was. Letterman comes off as a bitter old man who hates that he never got the tonight show.

NBC hypes up their winning the 18-to-49 demo for a good reason: Conan was a long-term choice. Letterman's primary audience is old people. When all these aging boomers start dying and the younger crowd get older, the audience will start to shift.

Leno is quick witted and funny. Letterman is smart but plays dumb. I have to vote for Leno telling it as it really is. Conan may appeal to a younger crowd but to me he is annoying and sometimes creepy. Leno is my choice and I truly hope his new show is successful. I really miss his Tonight show hosting.

the demographic spin by NBC is a lie.
the overall ratings are tiny for Conan compared to Leno.
is NBC saying 100 % of Conan's ratings are in the 18-49 crowd?

Nice try NBC!

You guys really messed up

Leno sucks, full stop.

For 27 years Dave has always raked in the awards, the nominations, the acclaim, and made a fortune for NBC in the 80s and CBS the past two decades. He has been the most influential name in comedy, and he was #1 in the ratings in the early 90s over Leno. Leno backstabbed his old friend, owed his career to Dave who let him come on his show in the 80s when no one else including Carson would, and Leno copied him very poorly every night, but of course he had the ratings stick to beat him with because he is not as hard to swallow as Dave.I always liked Conan, but Dave trumps Conan. Conan has respect for Dave, sat in his old studio at NBC for ten years, and kept Dave's picture on his wall. So maybe Conan does not mind like Leno did. Keep going Dave. So many dummies hate you, but the smart ones love ya!

Conan O'Brien is Gavin Newsom with red hair: arrogant, in-your-face, full of himself and not funny, Sonny. We're missing Jay Leno and can't wait for September.

Not a big deal to be the overall winner? In what bizzaro-world? Leno was the overall winner and now that Letterman is, all of a sudden we are going to change the measuring stick?

Isn't Conan still winning in almost all of the key demographics though? It's a no brainer that Letterman will win the audience because he's on CBS since their shows attract a lot of viewers but not so much with the 18-49 crowd, at least in comparison. If that's the case, which I believe it is, I don't think it's such a big deal that Conan's losing the overall audience share.

Yes, it is pathetic that there is no Emmy nomination for Leno.

Not surprised that The Tonight Show's ratings are slipping. Conan has a very specific type of humor that doesn't appeal to the majority of the population. Not sure what NBC was thinking replacing Jay Leno with him. If it's not broke, don't fix it!



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