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“I need to, after this, take some time off and just analyze how I’m going to make it through the rest of this life, how I’m going to improve. Because I am a celebrity, and that’s something I have to deal with.”
KANYE KEEPS HIS MUST-SEE TV ACT GOING IN PRIME TIME
Even President Obama Gets Into the Act, Albeit Off the Record
Kanye West is a man of many talents, but the biggest of them would seem to be a rarefied ability to draw massive attention to himself. One night after transforming the VMAs into reality TV—and helping push the show’s ratings through the roof—Kanye did it again on the premiere of The Jay Leno Show, the longtime late-night host’s foray into prime time.

You might say the stars lined up for Leno whose talent booker had locked in West well in advance of his bizarre and brutish putdown of the universally adored ingénue Taylor Swift Sunday night (an act that joined Rep. Joe Wilson’s “You lie!” as further evidence of the radical coarsening of American culture). NBC would have gladly paid Kanye handsomely for the outburst, but this was the sort of media event money can’t buy, ensuring that additional millions of eyeballs (mostly mmbers of the most desirable demo to boot) would be trained on the premiere of the show programming that Time predicted could determine “the future of television.”

And here, once again, Kanye pushed the envelope, albeit with Jay’s help. Along with the expected mea culpa, and even before joining Jay-Z and Rihanna in a performance of “Run This Town,” the rapper managed to spontaneously generate another Indelible Media Moment, at once squirm-inducingly awkward and touching—or as touching as a dude with a rococo inscribed coif can be. Here’s the transcription, courtesy of the N.Y. Times Media Decoder blog:

LENO: Let me ask you something. I was fortunate enough to meet your mom and talk with your mom a number of years ago. What do you think she would have said about this?

WEST: [A loooooooooonnng pause.]

LENO: Would she be disappointed in this? Would she give you a lecture?

WEST: Yeah. You know, obviously, you know, I deal with hurt. And, you know, so many celebrities, they never take the time off. I’ve never taken the time off to really—you know, just music after music and tour after tour. I’m just ashamed that my hurt caused someone else’s hurt. My dream of what awards shows are supposed to be, ’cause—and I don’t try to justify it because I was just in the wrong. That’s period.

But I need to, after this, take some time off and just analyze how I’m going to make it through the rest of this life, how I’m going to improve. Because I am a celebrity, and that’s something I have to deal with. And if there’s anything I could do to help Taylor in the future or help anyone, I’d like—you know, I want to live this thing. It’s hard sometimes, so…

LENO: Thanks for coming here, and thanks for doing that.

Wrote N.Y. Times TV critic Alessandra Stanley: “West’s apology didn’t fit NBC’s definition of the Leno hour as a refreshing infusion of stand-up comedy into the bathos of 10 p.m. network dramas and detective shows. If anything, the premiere out Oprah-ed The Oprah Winfrey Show, and not because of the short pre-taped cameo Ms. Winfrey made as a joke during Jerry Seinfeld’s segment.”

As for Stanley’s assessment of the show: “So much attention—and promotion—has been spent deciphering the impact Mr. Leno’s 10 p.m. slot could have on prime-time programming, and so much ink has been devoted to describing how Mr. Leno’s new show would depart from his old one that it was startling to see how little difference there was. The set was slightly different, and Mr. Leno spoke with his guests in matching armchairs, not across a desk, but the content and tone of the premiere looked and sounded like any ordinary Tonight show.”

Remarked Shari Anne Brill, a TV analyst for the media agency Carat, in Media Decoder, “The Kanye incident last night was a gift from the heavens for Leno.”

As if Kanye hadn’t done enough, celebrity point guard Barack Obama racked up an inadvertent assist when he called the rapper "a jackass" in an off-the-record comment during a CNBC interview yesterday, David Hinckley noted in the N.Y. Daily News. The comment became public when it was tweeted by ABC's Terry Moran, Politico.com reported. That breach of journalistic ethics prompted ABC to explain (as ifit made any difference): "ABC News employees prematurely tweeted a portion of those remarks that turned out to be from an off-the-record portion of the interview."

All of which requires us to ask, what will Kanye do today…?

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