Tonight is the last night for Conan O’Brien on the TONIGHT SHOW. His guests are going to be Who would have thought he would have had such a short run. I never really cared about the late night war too much. I remember Letterman had a fiasco with his network and enjoyed the snide remarks he always made about Les Moonves. I have never chosen sides in the late war, although I’d flip around and catch some of their shows from time to time. However, that’s changed now. I’m with Conan. He’s a funny guy, but more importantly he has a commitment to the brand he believed he would have time to add value to. I’ll post his letter addressed to “People of the world” at the end here. It’s funny but really lays out his passion for something he believed in. Funny that he had less than a year of episodes to do what Johnny Carson did in 30 years, or Leno had a chance to do in 17 years. He’s walking with $33 mill, $12 mill for his staff, and a lot of support from Fox throughout the whole thing these past few weeks. I’m with team Conan now. Tune in tonight on NBC for the end of what we all know as “The Tonight Show” at 11:35 pm /10:35c. He has some killer guests on the Tonight Show tonight with Tom Hanks and Will Ferrell. It’s going to be a great ending to a short run. After the Olympics are over at the end of February, it sounds like Leno will resume his spot and take the Tonight Show name back, and drop “The Jay Leno Show”. Also read Conan’s letter below, it’s hilarious. This along with the fact that Conan put the Tonight Show for sale on Craigslist among other antics make him the funniest man to hold the Tonight Show title, ever. Let me also note, this is yet another thing that TMZ broke to us, not the rich stuffy old board-room network news rooms.
Letter from Conan:
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.