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Sona Movsesian on the End of Conan’s ‘Tonight Show’

Any ardent and longtime devotee of Conan O’Brien is conscious and sure fond of Sona Movsesian, the late-night host’s personal assistant who advanced right into a sidekick and comedian foil in his podcasts and pretaped Conan segments. But she’s nonetheless O’Brien’s assistant, a job she loves and retains regardless of not performing it effectively or with a lot effort, as detailed in her unfastened, charming, and amusing work memoir The World’s Worst Assistant.

Sort of a showbiz memoir and assortment of tales about life in the trenches of Hollywood’s underbelly of underlings, Movsesian is admittedly lazy, forgetful, and unrepentant, unwilling to emphasize herself out over the mundane particulars of a job. She additionally works for an absolute legend in O’Brien, apparently a straightforward and forgiving boss who dishes out lighthearted teasing of Movsesian and takes it in return.

If you’ve ever questioned how somebody as hilariously anti-work as Movsesian bought her job and what her complete deal is or needed to listen to day-to-day behind-the-scenes particulars of O’Brien’s varied late-night speak exhibits, that is the book for that together with heaps of ideas on the right way to be a foul assistant and the right way to take care of bosses, each the dangerous ones and the good ones. O’Brien in all probability falls in the latter class. In this excerpt from The World’s Worst Assistant, she helps defend him from undesirable paparazzi consideration throughout the very public and really contentious demise of his Tonight Show–hosting tenure.

I had labored for Conan for nearly a year when he bought phrase that there had been going to be adjustments in the late-night lineup — and that the community was contemplating placing Jay Leno back in the 11:35 p.m. slot. Jay had embarked on an ill-advised 10 p.m. present that tanked, and since of his contract, NBC realized it could be extra value environment friendly to maintain him on the air. Their proposed resolution was to present him a half-hour present at 11:35 p.m., which was coincidentally the similar time as The Tonight Show With Conan O’Brien. That would push The Tonight Show to a begin time of 12:05 a.m., eradicating the literal that means of “tonight.”

What adopted after was the most inspiring, emotional, irritating, and academic second in my career.

Inspiring as a result of of the large help Conan and the present bought from his viewers. Conan’s fan base has at all times been ardent, they usually confirmed up once we all wanted them the most. I had identified he was beloved earlier than I began working for him, however I didn’t understand how beloved till this second.

Emotional as a result of nobody knew what was going to occur. So many of my colleagues on the present had moved their whole lives from New York to California to work on a present that now confronted uncertainty. We had been additionally overwhelmed with the love we had been getting not simply from the followers however from allies at the community and the press.

It was a irritating time as a result of I had labored for the publicity division at the community earlier than I began working for Conan, and I suspected they had been the supply of a lot deceptive data that got here out in the press. It was jarring to suppose some of the people I used to work with would possibly now be the people who had been attempting to disparage my new boss with planted tales and nameless quotes.

And the time was academic as a result of, up till this second, I had been shielded from the ugliness of tv. I by no means really noticed the ruthless underbelly that existed under the flowery floor — the dynamics I knew had been there however naïvely believed I might by no means need to see. I noticed people I might work with on a day by day foundation take sides. I additionally got here to suppose Jay Leno may not be the good man I’d thought he was. The man who at all times boasted about not having an agent or supervisor was now instructing me how vital it was to have an agent or supervisor. I couldn’t imagine how quiet somebody who had hosted The Tonight Show for 17 years gave the impression to be about the present being moved a half-hour later. Didn’t he additionally suppose it was a horrible thought? Or was he so determined to get the present back that he would cease at nothing for the time slot? I didn’t know what to suppose anymore. All I knew was I used to be dissatisfied.

I attempted to focus on the positives. Some would suppose my favourite reminiscence from this time was the help from our fan base or the impressed writing on the present these final two weeks or the outpouring of help from some massive names who made the end of The Tonight Show With Conan O’Brien so memorable.

But my favourite moments don’t have anything to do with any of that. When Conan’s title was thrust much more into the highlight, the press needed any glimpse of him exterior the studio. They began ready for him down the road from his home. He didn’t love all the consideration, particularly at a time when there was a lot uncertainty round his career, so he requested me to present him a journey to work. Why me? Easy. Because nobody would imagine he, Conan O’Brien, would drive round L.A. in a white 2007 Volkswagen Jetta. He was right. For two weeks, I drove from Pasadena to Brentwood, picked up Conan, and drove us each to work. Not a single member of the paparazzi knew the place he went. We would drive straight by means of the throngs of photographers, and I’d park in his spot at the studio like a baller with him crouching in the back seat so nobody would see him.

My different favourite second occurred very late in the night once we had been all ready for Conan’s exit contract with NBC to be able to signal.

Conan’s office was on one side of the hallway, and govt producer Jeff Ross’s office was on the different. In between, there was a convention room that was normally for conferences, however throughout these two weeks it was getting used as a struggle room by a military of well-dressed attorneys who had been negotiating with NBC round the clock.

The night time after his remaining present, Conan was in his office with me and Rick Rosen, his longtime agent. We had been ready for the contract to be accomplished. It was tense, to say the least.

We had nothing to do, so we began flipping by means of the channels, and we stumbled upon what was one of my favourite exhibits at the time — Bad Girls Club.

Bad Girls Club was a present on Oxygen that explored the lives of girls who had been … to place it delicately … simply triggered. The present took girls and made them live in a home collectively, after which filmed all the pieces that occurred. It was The Real World with seven girls with tempers and healthy libidos. They fought, they attached with strangers and each other, they usually partied arduous. If I may have an alter ego, it could be a Bad Girl from the Bad Girls Club.

I exploited Conan’s susceptible second and used it as a chance to meet up with this insane actuality present. Conan, Rick, and I sat there with out talking. Conan and Rick had been considering the subsequent career transfer for Conan. I used to be considering how the Saddle Ranch on Sunset Boulevard was simply as trashy then as it was when my mates and I had gone there 5 years earlier. Together, we watched these seven girls battle each other and hook up with strangers for hours, till a lawyer walked into Conan’s office and advised him it was time. The lawyer offered the exit contract for Conan to signal, and identical to that, Conan ended his time with the community he had been a component of for over 16 years.

To at the present time, I can’t watch Bad Girls Club with out pondering of that night time — ready together with his highly effective agent for a pivotal second in my boss’s career to transpire whereas watching seven girls battle at a nightclub in Hollywood.

In that second, I may’ve inspired some reflection, or higher but, I may’ve left Rick and Conan alone. There was a lot on their minds, and I’m certain it didn’t assist that I sat in between the two of them and made them watch a present that had the reverse of a chilled impact. I may’ve accomplished higher. But I freaking love that present.

From The World’s Worst Assistant, by Sona Movsesian, to be revealed on July 19 2022 by Plume, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2022 by Sona Movsesian.

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