Conan leaving NBC

 Posted by at 16:14  Entertainment
Jan 122010

I have never been a big Conan O’Brien fan, but I do think he is getting a raw deal from NBC. The network was premature in pushing Jay Leno out of The Tonight Show in favor of O’Brien, but having made that decision they should have had the integrity to stand by it (at least for a year or two). Here is the statement that Mr. O’Brien released this afternoon…

Conan O'Brien
Conan O'Brien

People of Earth:

In the last few days, I’ve been getting a lot of sympathy calls, and I want to start by making it clear that no one should waste a second feeling sorry for me. For 17 years, I’ve been getting paid to do what I love most and, in a world with real problems, I’ve been absurdly lucky. That said, I’ve been suddenly put in a very public predicament and my bosses are demanding an immediate decision.

Six years ago, I signed a contract with NBC to take over The Tonight Show in June of 2009. Like a lot of us, I grew up watching Johnny Carson every night and the chance to one day sit in that chair has meant everything to me. I worked long and hard to get that opportunity, passed up far more lucrative offers, and since 2004 I have spent literally hundreds of hours thinking of ways to extend the franchise long into the future. It was my mistaken belief that, like my predecessor, I would have the benefit of some time and, just as important, some degree of ratings support from the prime-time schedule. Building a lasting audience at 11:30 is impossible without both.

But sadly, we were never given that chance. After only seven months, with my Tonight Show in its infancy, NBC has decided to react to their terrible difficulties in prime-time by making a change in their long-established late night schedule.

Last Thursday, NBC executives told me they intended to move the Tonight Show to 12:05 to accommodate the Jay Leno Show at 11:35. For 60 years the Tonight Show has aired immediately following the late local news. I sincerely believe that delaying the Tonight Show into the next day to accommodate another comedy program will seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting. The Tonight Show at 12:05 simply isn’t the Tonight Show. Also, if I accept this move I will be knocking the Late Night show, which I inherited from David Letterman and passed on to Jimmy Fallon, out of its long-held time slot. That would hurt the other NBC franchise that I love, and it would be unfair to Jimmy.

So it has come to this: I cannot express in words how much I enjoy hosting this program and what an enormous personal disappointment it is for me to consider losing it. My staff and I have worked unbelievably hard and we are very proud of our contribution to the legacy of The Tonight Show. But I cannot participate in what I honestly believe is its destruction. Some people will make the argument that with DVRs and the Internet a time slot doesn’t matter. But with the Tonight Show, I believe nothing could matter more.

There has been speculation about my going to another network but, to set the record straight, I currently have no other offer and honestly have no idea what happens next. My hope is that NBC and I can resolve this quickly so that my staff, crew, and I can do a show we can be proud of, for a company that values our work.

Have a great day and, for the record, I am truly sorry about my hair; it’s always been that way.



Looks like Leno will be moving back in at The Tonight Show after the Olympics. I’ll watch Letterman.

  8 Responses to “Conan leaving NBC”

  1. Honestly, I think that Leno should just step down. His time on late night television is up. If he wanted to host The Tonight Show he should have renewed his contract when he had the chance, but what he’s doing to Conan is just unfair. Conan didn’t even get a chance because of Leno. I think Leno is making a fool of himself…I agree with you Letterman is the only one left!

  2. wonder if it’s like a sports contract where they would have to pay him off ?
    bet if it is, he’s gonna open a writers shop and make B I G Money. ooohhh shame on you nbc. your watchers will not forget this. Leno lets see how you do it this time. I’m with you Len, Letterman or blogging for me. besides I like paul better.

  3. I don’t feel sorry for Conan.

    I’m PROUD of Conan. Kudos to him for making the right move, and not being an arse in the process.

  4. I never liked Conan’s style of humor. From now on I will get my giggles and grins from FOX once Palin is on board. Lots of fodder for posts and Tina Fey.

  5. I’ve never been a huge fan of Conan, but this sets the standard for professionalism and grace. The apology about his hair doesn’t hurt, either.

  6. Thanks y’all for your comments. Conan will be fine. He’s got a pretty big golden parachute that will make his landing soft enough, plus I’m sure he’ll have no problem getting another job somewhere. I think The Tonight Show, however, is done for. David Letterman is loving every minute of this (and who can blame him?).

  7. I think Jay should step down and go into retirement like it was planned 6 years ago. However, I don’t see that happening, so where ever Conan goes, I will follow.

  8. I grew to like Conan and after reading this, shows what a class act he really it. Also reinforces why I don’t bother with TV much anymore. This type of BS has been displayed before with NBC, which once was a proud franchise. Now all it has, is a history on how it used to be great.

    By the way NBC was intitally started by General Electric and here in upstate NY. The three musical notes that used to be played when the peacock was still around were the notes G-E-C that of course stood for Genneral Electric Company. Just full of fun facts today!

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.