Friday, January 15, 2010

Conan O'Brien's Last Show to Air January 22

    Bill Simmons of ESPN tweeted today (January 14) that Conan O'Brien's last show will air on January 22.**  “FYI: Next week is Conan’s final week hosting 'The Tonight Show,' " said Simmons. "His staff is trying to book big guests so he goes out with a bang. It’s true.”**

    The former host of "Late Night" on NBC released an official statement stating he will not host "The Tonight Show" if it is pushed back to 12:05 a.m. (January 12). "I cannot participate in what I honestly believe is its ["The Tonight Show's] destruction," said O'Brien. "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."***

    O'Brien relieved Jay Leno as host of the "The Tonight Show" 7 months prior. Leno was then moved to a 10 o'clock comedy show of his own, which failed miserably in ratings. NBC now wishes to push Leno's show back to 11:35 p.m., which would push "The Tonight Show" back to 12:05 a.m. The latter factor is what O'Brien is protesting and if the network approves of his departure, O'Brien is entitled to a once reported $48 million for misrepresentation in his contract.

    "The Tonight Show" was guaranteed to O'Brien in a contract he signed in 2004 and he feels as though he is being robbed of his childhood dream. "I grew up watching Johnny Carson every night and the chance to one day sit in that chair has meant everything to me," said O'Brien. "I worked long and hard to get that opportunity. ...It was my mistaken belief that, like my predecessor [Jay Leno], 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."***

    It is reported that O'Brien does not have another offer in the works and that Leno has signed a deal to host his show from 11:35 p.m. to 12:35 a.m. A source at The Wrap said that “...The sooner O’Brien starts a new gig — if he starts one — the less money it [NBC] would have to pay. So if Conan managed to land a new job at Fox [the rumored network in which O'Brien is said to host a new show] within a year, the Peacock might shell out less than the full $30 million [that is reportedly entitled to the host].”****

    As of January 21, NBC reached an agreement with O'Brien and his staff, guaranteeing a $45 million payoff for their abandonment of "The Tonight Show." O'Brien is the recipient of $33 million of the deal, while the remainder ($12 million) is divided amongst his 200+ staffers. Leno will return to his duties as host of "The Tonight Show," a gig he had previously held for 17 years.*****

    According to and The New York Times, O'Brien's last night as host is January 22. His negotiations with NBC will allow him to return to television in September 2010.

    Viewers across America are taking sides with the late-night hosts and have inspired the trendy topic "I'm with Coco (Conan)" on Twitter.

    ******5) Photo:

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