The highly anticipated guest list for the first week of Conan O'Brien's new TBS show has been announced. When "Conan" debuts November 8, his talking partners will include actor Seth Rogen, musician Jack White, and the winner of an online vote, likely Jack Nicholson. As the week unfolds, Tom Hanks, Jon Hamm, Soundgarden, Julie Bowen ("Modern Family"), Michael Cera, and others will stop by. (See a complete list here.) Is the list sufficiently irresistible to help Conan compete with Leno and Letterman in his new cable channel home? (Watch a promo for "Conan.") Commentators spout off:
It's a good mix: Save for Hanks, these are "all relatively cool people," says Willa Paskin in New York. We're looking forward to this "nicely curated mix of pretty famous to a little bit less famous" guests.
"Conan announces his first week of guests"
And a competitive list: "For at least one week, 'Conan' has answered questions regarding whether or not a freshly created cable talk show will be able to compete with Leno & Letterman for top-line talent," says Daniel Fienberg at HitFix. "Stay tuned for Week Two..."
"Conan O'Brien's first TBS guests include Seth Rogen, Tom Hanks, Jon Hamm"
Yeah, but can O'Brien maintain this level of star quality? It's worth noting that most of Conan's first guests don't have anything to promote, says Jaime Weinman at Macleans, "though it's possible Cera has another flop movie coming out that we just haven’t heard about." As such, it's hard to gauge if O'Brien can consistently convince big-name stars to drop by when they're doing the P.R. rounds.
"Conan O'Brien's guest list includes Canadians"
This guest list fails to distinguish O'Brien from the old guard: "Don’t get me wrong, these guys are great and talented (except Soundgarden—they lost it in 1995)," says Alex Moore at Death and Taxes, but they're a little old school. "If Coco wants to own a younger generation who finds Jay Leno stiff and droll, he should probably get some younger blood in there... If you’re going to roll with Tom Hanks, at least invite Warpaint as the musical guest."
"Conan announces first guests on new show"
But there's a place for tradition: Whenever "Conan O'Brien starts a talk show, he gets Tom Hanks to come by," says James Poniewozik at Time. "That's just tradition." Let's just "hope Hanks can avoid being hit by a [fake] meteor this time" — a prank that bombed when Hanks guested on the second night of Conan's "The Tonight Show." One amusing note: Jack McBrayer of "30 Rock" is coming on — "take that NBC!"
"Conan O'Brien announces first week's guests"