Spectator: Behind Late Night's Cinderella Story

Behind Late Night's Cinderella Story

IN THIS KNOWING AGE, WHEN EVERY CITIZEN IS FAMILiar with the seasonal anomalies of box-office grosses and Nielsen overnights, the willingness to believe in old-fashioned show-business fairy tales is low. Today, instead of Lana Turner we have Madonna.

So no wonder NBC's decision to replace David Letterman with a nobody ( provoked such a frenzy. Conan O'Brien, who just turned 30, is the truest show- business Cinderella since -- well, ever. O'Brien isn't merely "little known"; Saturday Night Live's Al Franken, for instance, is a superstar by comparison. Hundreds of people his age have logged more TV time. O'Brien will soon...

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