UPDATE: Conan dropping Max Weinberg?
Conan O'Brien always seemed to relish humiliating his No. 1 straight-man and bandleader (and longtime E Street Band drummer) Max Weinberg on Late Night, The Tonight Show, and the comic's recent and wildly successful Legally Prohibited From Being Funny On Television Tour. But here's the real shit sandwich: As reported by Vulture and others, rock legend Al Kooper (who plays in a band with Weinberg sideman Jimmy Vivino) told CityPages that Weinberg has been axed from Conan's upcoming TBS show. Says Kooper: "He’s not in that band anymore. 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." When asked if the whole band had been replaced, Kooper replied, "No, not at all. That’s the only change."
What could be the reason behind Weinberg's sacking? As Movieline revealed last month, Weinberg had allegedly asked Jay Leno about the possibility of leading his Tonight Show band after the retirement of Kevin Eubanks (that seat having since been filled by Ricky Minor). Conan, of course, still holds something of grudge against Leno for taking back The Tonight Show, as affirmed by his interview with 60 Minutes Sunday, in which Conan said, "If roles had been reversed, I know—I know me, I wouldn't have done that." No official word about the Weinberg situation has yet been released; we'll keep you posted. In the meantime: Conan, watch your back.