Conan's run as host of the iconic “Tonight Show” lasted only seven months (before the time slot was reclaimed by former host Jay Leno), but it was enough to get the academy's attention.
The nominations also caused a bit of controversy, some questioning if they were only sympathy noms, or a statement of protest directed toward NBC. Many Hollywood insiders seem to think that the Emmys are taking sides in a Leno/O'Brien debate, the most heated rivalry I've seen since Team Edward/Team Jacob.
An exec from a rival network was quoted in The Hollywood Reporter as saying that the nomination “seems like a political statement rather than a vote about the quality of the program itself... I don't think even Conan would say that the show yet represented what he wanted it to be in terms of an Emmy-winning performance."
As a long-time fan of “Late Night with Conan O'Brien,” I was excited when O'Brien took over for Jay Leno, whose bland, run-of-the-mill humor never failed to put me to sleep. Sure, Conan's “Tonight Show” had a rocky start, but what new show doesn't? A couple more months and I'm sure the show would have found its stride.
Meanwhile, Leno's ill-conceived nightly primetime talk show was bombing (What? Early risers don't want to watch this guy for an hour before they go to sleep every night? Who would have thought?), but NBC wanted to keep him, for some reason. So I was grimly unsurprised when the network announced last winter that Leno would return to his old time slot, leaving Conan out in the cold.
So what if Conan's Emmy nominations are just the academy's way of sticking it to NBC? In my opinion, they deserve it. And while I'm watching the Emmys this year, and waiting for the premiere of Conan's new show on TBS in the fall, I'll be wearing my Team Conan t-shirt.