After some apparent overtures regarding Conan O’Brien’s bandleader, Max Weinberg, approaching Jay Leno to replace Kevin Eubanks when he left “The Tonight Show,” it appears that Weinberg is no longer with Conan’s band. That, at least, according to Al Kooper, who is apparently in a position to know. Referring to Max Weinberg and the rest of Conan’s band, Kooper had this to say in an interview with City Pages:
Kooper: There’s a name you can’t say anymore. He’s not in that band anymore.
CP: Max? What happened there?
Kooper: They let him go. This is a big transition, and they’re all signing new contracts and everything so they replaced him, as far as I know.
CP: Is the band gone as a whole?
Kooper: No, not at all. That’s the only change. But I mean, there was a lotta conflict because of Springsteen. So now he can play with Springsteen whenever he wants.
Well, that’s interesting. Also interesting: an excerpt that CBS released from Conon O’Brien’s sit-down chat with “60 Minutes,” due to air this Sunday. I’m not sure it’s all roses and bygones with Conan with regard to Leno, as he had this to say of Leno:
He went and took that show back and I think in a similar situation, if roles had been reversed, I know — I know me, I wouldn’t have done that. If I had surrendered ‘The Tonight Show’ and handed it over to somebody publicly and wished them well — and then … six months later. But that’s me, you know. Everyone’s got their own, you know, way of doing things. [I would have] done something else, go someplace else. I mean, that’s just me.”
“I think this relationship [with NBC] is going be toxic and maybe we just need to go our separate ways. That’s really how it felt to me…and I started to feel that I’m not sure these people even really want me here….I can’t do it [anymore].
You know: The late-night wars, on most days, are more interesting than the late-night shows themselves.
I think Letterman orchestrated the entire thing.