Conan O’Brien Coming Back To TV This Fall


Conan O’Brien will host a new late-night TV show on cable network TBS this fall, giving him a new platform on cable television less than a year after he left NBC in an acrimonious blowup.

Mr. O’Brien’s yet-to-be titled show will debut in November, and run four nights a week at 11 p.m. Eastern time.

The new show is a costly gamble for TBS, a comedy network owned by Time Warner Inc.’s Atlanta-based Turner Broadcasting.

Mr. O’Brien’s move to cable from broadcast is a surprise turn. For months, the comedian’s representatives had held talks with the Fox executives about creating a weeknight late-night show on the News Corp.-owned network, according to people familiar with the matter.

Talks to bring Mr. O’Brien to TBS became serious in recent weeks, a person familiar with the matter said.

Conan O’Brien Working On Fox Deal

I hope they seal a deal.

Fox Broadcasting is inching closer to bringing Conan O’Brien back to late night.

Key Fox executives, including Rupert Murdoch, are on board with the plan and would like to finalize a deal in coming weeks so they can make a splash on May 17 when the network unveils its fall lineup. Several significant issues remain and the Fox talks could fall apart, according to people close to the negotiations who asked anonymity because the discussions were meant to be private.

But people close to O’Brien are cautiously optimistic.

“We’ll get there,” one of them said Tuesday.

Fox executives have been huddling to figure out how much it will cost to mount a late-night talk show that would be profitable for Fox stations and affiliates. Stations, hammered by the advertising recession, rely on the profits generated by syndicated reruns such as “The Simpsons” and “The Office,” and it’s unclear how many stations would be willing to substitute those shows for a risky venture — even one starring a big-name host.

Dick Cavett Remarks On Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien, And NBC

Perfectly penned.

Allegedly, a major factor in all this is what I think of as The Myth of the Young Viewers. That precious chunk of the population that advertisers are said to salivate over.

Just for fun, take a moment and ask yourself how the ratings services can claim to know the age make-up of a mass audience. Do they send out squads of window-peekers to see if it’s grandma or junior sitting before the set, watching Dave, Conan, Jay, Ellen, Craig, Jimmy and Jimmy? Or to see what percentage watch while using yo-yo’s vs. ear trumpets? Who is twittering and who is tatting? (Perhaps someone in on the secret formula will share it with me?)

And isn’t there something a little dubious about the notion that the young are the ones with all the money? Someone please enlighten me.

This whole mess was like an election where everybody lost.

And how about that cynical, get-lost offer they made to Conan? It didn’t require his Harvard degree to perceive that what they dangled before him — a show starting at 12:05, past midnight — couldn’t with much accuracy be called “The Tonight Show.” “The Next Day Show” maybe, or “The Tomorrow Show,” or “The Really, Really Early Show” — but hardly “Tonight.”

Appearing by remote from New York on Larry King’s show at the height of the confusion, shock and turmoil, I claimed to be able to see NBC’s building from the studio window: “They’ve hung out a banner, Larry, that says, ‘Mission Accomplished.’” The joke worked again on Imus. (And, I hope, here.)

Johnny Carson Had Class, Jay Leno Can’t Compare

I found this article in todays newspaper penned by Raymond Siller, head writer for many years to Johnny Carson, to be tone perfect.

(Johnny Carson) was also charitable toward his other late-night rivals. One night, a guest made a disparaging on-air comment about Dick Cavett, then opposite Johnny on ABC. After his Burbank taping, Johnny phoned Mr. Cavett in New York, hours before the remark would air on the East Coast. He gave Dick a heads-up apology for what someone else had said. I never heard him utter publicly or privately an unkind word about his many competitors.

Today’s late-night landscape is more mean-spirited. Jay Leno did give a faint-praise shout-out to Conan O’Brien. But Jay’s story that NBC was the sole player behind all the machinations from the get-go didn’t ring true. It was reminiscent of the time he blamed his former executive producer for undermining Mr. Carson and David Letterman. Like the night when he took over “The Tonight Show” in 1992 and failed to mention the man who preceded him, Johnny Carson.

It’s unseemly to watch multimillionaires airing their mistreatment by NBC as monologue fodder, sniping at each other, especially given the coverage from Haiti. Since the on-air feuds have surfaced, the principals’ ratings have increased and spilled over to widely viewed clips on YouTube. Sometimes we just can’t help ourselves from peeking at their in-fighting. But ultimately it becomes tedious and we go back to our lives.

Once Mr. Leno Jay-walks back to 11:35, he may be able to recover his fan base, but he’s tarnished. He has suffered body blows from Jimmy Kimmel. David Letterman has savaged his longtime nemesis, too. Jay had become an irresistible target. He misplaced his blue-collar, Springsteen persona when he pulled “The Tonight Show” desk and chair out from under Conan. Jay could once again best Dave Letterman, but his reputation as the humble, regular guy has dimmed.

Conan O’Brien Exit Deal Nearly Done At NBC

After such a pleasant experience with NBC why would Conan O’Brien have anything bad to say about the network?  Oh, that is right, the lawyers for NBC have made it so he can’t say anything negative……. 

One final obstacle, among others, is the amount of severance for staff of “Tonight,” the people said. Under the agreement, Friday night’s show would be the last for Mr. O’Brien and his staff.

Other issues also remain in play, including smaller points about non-disparagement and the timing of severance payments, the people said.

The deal currently on the table includes a payout of roughly $32 million to $35 million for Mr. O’Brien, along with about $12 million for the show’s staff, although those figures could still change, people familiar with the situation said. Mr. O’Brien’s representatives are asking for roughly $600,000 to cover several months of pay for staff, rather than weeks, those people said.

How Does Jeff Zucker Keep His Job?

Excellent article.

The bad guys are the NBC executives who botched things up not just once but now twice, clumsily and foolishly. Their initial mistake was saying “yes” to O’Brien in the first place, to being coldly logical about it, back when O’Brien wrested a contractual guarantee that he would become “Tonight Show” host within five years, no matter how successful Leno might have been in the role.

And as it turns out, he was very successful, and it is absurd that he be asked to take a hike.

The feeble-brained executives should have heeded the “I don’t care” rule propounded by the great CBS News President Bill Leonard when he had to decide whether Dan Rather or Roger Mudd would succeed Walter Cronkite in the anchor chair of “The CBS Evening News,” another vaunted secular pulpit. Leonard had to deal with the reality that whichever one didn’t get the job would go to a competing network.

Leonard thought and considered and decided: He didn’t care if Roger Mudd went to another network because the damage to CBS ratings would likely be minimal, at least in comparison with the damage that the more glamorous and telegenic Rather could do. So Rather, you might recall, got the job.

One mystery of the Leno-O’Brien story is how such executives as Zucker keep their jobs and get the kind of fabulous promotions that normally reward not failure but success. In his defense, Zucker could always say, “Hey, it’s not like I’m a Wall Street banker” — though somehow, the difference seems slight.

Conan O’Brien Reported To Be Leaving NBC, Gets Payout

If this is all true, then I am proud of Conan O’Brien.    Will last Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien be January 22nd? 

Conan has been treated unfairly by NBC, and Jay Leno has been front and center in the abuse.  I know Conan will find a new network, and the viewers will follow.

The late-night nightmare is almost over. Conan O’Brien is leaving NBC and receiving a payout—and he’ll be free to appear on another network before his contract expires, Kim Masters reports.

The NBC-Leno-Conan war is close to ending, according to a knowledgeable source. According to the outlines of a settlement, Conan O’Brien will leave NBC and the network will make an as-yet unspecified payment. The comedian will be free to appear elsewhere on television well before his contract expires, despite earlier threats from NBC that it would prevent him from working anywhere else.

There is still opportunity for the negotiation to fall apart, but clearly, at this point it is in NBC’s interest to put an end to this dismal episode.

It seems that Ron Meyer, the affable chief of the Universal film studio, played a key role in bringing the parties together when they were at an impasse and talks had broken down. Meyer is a former agent whose industry relationships run deep and wide. And of course, he has lots of negotiating experience.

According to the source, the resolution to the epic and highly public battle came down primarily to the size of the check that NBC would write to O’Brien. That amount remains shrouded in mystery for now, and no doubt the parties will have to agree to confidentiality as part of the deal.

Conan O’Brien Correct In Saying “No” To Moving ‘Tonight Show’ Time

Good for Conan O’Brien!  I have had more than enough of the puffy-faced Jay Leno making his demands about what time slot he wants, and not seeming to care that there are other players in the arena with him that also demand some respect.  Lets be honest, there were not enough viewers for Leno in prime time. Was that Conan’s fault?  No.   Leno had his time at “The Tonight Show’, failed in prime time, and might now need to be satisfied with collecting cars and counting his untold millions.  Let Conan O’ Brien who worked and toiled at NBC have his time at the top of late night chat.  But to have Leno think that he can bluster and muscle his way around late night and bump Conan out of his time slot would be embarrassing and shameful.  It that were to happen Conan needs to walk away from NBC, if for nothing more, than for his own self-respect and dignity.

Conan O’Brien said Tuesday he’ll leave “The Tonight Show” if NBC moves it to 12:05 a.m. because he won’t participate in the “destruction” of the storied TV franchise.

NBC asked O’Brien to continue as host of the show at a later hour as part of its plan to move the “Jay Leno Show” out of prime time.

In a lengthy statement released Tuesday afternoon, the pompadoured comic said that wasn’t an option for him, drawing a line in the sand.

“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,” O’Brien said.

“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.”

He said moving the show to follow a half-hour of Leno would “seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting.”