The whole Conan and NBC fiasco has been blamed on everything from poor ratings, to bad decision making upon the part of NBC, to even directly on Conan (which I strongly disagree). But here's one theory that has not yet been publicly discussed: Will Ferrell. Yes, Will Ferrell. I call it "The Will Ferrell Curse." You see, every time Ferrell has appeared as the first guest on a talk show the show hasn't lasted longer that a season. He was the first guest on John McEnroe's talk show on CNBC which lasted six months. Next Ferrell was the first guest on the very talented Megan Mullally's talk show that lasted a mere five months. Currently with Conan leaving Ferrell is zero for three.
At first glance Ferrell seemed like an obvious choice as Conan's first guest. He has phenomenal chemistry with Conan, his past appearances are classic, and he's beloved by the entire young demographic that advertisers care most about. Yet the statistics speak for themselves. He's zero for three. No other first guest in talk show history has come close. Bill Murray, on the other hand, is three for three. Murray was the first guest back in 1982 on Late Night with David Letterman which lasted eleven and a half years. Next Murray was the first guest on Late Show with David Letterman in 1993 which is still going strong. Then in 1999 Murray was the first guest on the Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn which Kilborn hosted for five years before departing, which wasn't related to ratings.
Statistically better choices for Conan's first guest would have included of course Bill Murray, John Goodman (his first guest on Late Night in 1993), or Michael J. Fox (first guest on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart). Still statistically speaking safer choices than Ferrell also include Wendy The Snapple Lady, "Grandpa" Al Lewis (yes, I know that he's deceased), and my landlord who I'm fairly certain gives a lousy pre-interview.
Will Ferrell, I know the curse isn't your fault. I only kindly ask that when Conan comes back to please stay away for the first episode. To be safe you actually may want to leave the state of California. Instead, I urge you to use your curse for good. That's right. For years to come, you can go on as the first guest to sabotage certain shows. Say if Glenn Beck ever got a talk show.
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