On this day in comedy on August 10, 2011 Lopez Tonight was cancelled from TBS.
Premiering on November 9, 2009, this George Lopez hosted late night talk show appeared to be nestled in for a long run when Lopez announced its abrupt cancellation on air. That in itself was historic as was the fact Lopez was the first Mexican-American to even host a late night talk show. The critics found Lopez’s voice grating and his humor not to their liking, but his target audience didn’t read or care about what ‘the critics’ said and rewarded the show with solid ratings for its time slot. So his demographics seemed assured and his approach was a fresh departure from the norm (yet still using the format of monologue, sketches, interviews and musical performance) with guests not usually seen on other such talk shows.
There had only been a moment of concern when rival late nighter, Conan O’Brien moved over to the cable station when his program on NBC was jeopardized by another rival, Jay Leno (with a combined $44 million payout for O’Brien and his staff). Thus, that situation seemed as though it was resolved amiably with accommodating time slots (O’Brien reluctantly took over Lopez’s time slot of 11:00pm at Lopez’s urging and Lopez Tonight then aired an hour later), but amiable was just a word journalists were using at the time. Behind the scenes, Lopez Tonight was in trouble and once Lopez gave his audience the bad news the show had a mere 24 hours before its final episode.
Changing to a later time slot spelled lower ratings. Lopez’s audience had things to do the next day so staying up that extra hour for a few laughs VS getting fired for nodding off at the job was an easy decision to make and most chose to get some shut eye and keep their checks rolling in. TBS and advertisers noticed the decline and after three quarters, pulled the plug. Even though Conan O’Brien made a public acknowledgement of how much his success was based on the generosity of George Lopez, the die was cast and the party was over. Lopez Tonight was now just a part of late night television history. It was an exciting moment that caught lightning in a bottle and just as quickly sparked out with the help of its creator. Within two weeks the time slot was taken over by reruns of the sitcom, The Office and the Lopez Tonight website was taken down.
By Darryl “D’Militant” Littleton
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