Monday, Nov. 03, 2008

Conan's Zipline Challenge

What's a late-night host to do without his writers? If you're NBC's Conan O'Brien — who returned to the air on Jan. 2 amid an ongoing Writers Guild of America strike — you take the opportunity (and empty minutes of air time) to fulfill your lifelong dream of ziplining from the audience to your desk. He later upped the ante by soliciting ideas from his viewers, which included adding a smoke-spewing helmet, and introducing a plotline — he ziplines across the studio to knock down John Wilkes Booth during a re-enactment of Lincoln's assassination. Still, the zipline may not have proved as memorable as Conan's "strike beard," which the host grew in solidarity with guild writers. His copper-colored facial hair (or as he called it, "a hobby on my face") developed a following of its own; one fan even created a MySpace profile for "Conan's beard"; it currently has 419 friends.