Conan O'Brien Issues Statement Regarding NBC's Late Night Moves - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

Conan O’Brien Issues Statement Regarding NBC’s Late Night Moves

January 12, 2010 by  

Just moments ago, Conan O’Brien released a statement regarding his future with The Tonight Show. In his statement, Conan says he loves “Tonight Show,” but, “I cannot participate in what I honestly believe is its destruction.”

Well put. Well played, Mr. O’Brien. I think Conan is better than the treatment he is receiving at the hands of NBC. This statement showed just what class the man has.

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.



Filed under Conan O'Brien


16 Responses to “Conan O’Brien Issues Statement Regarding NBC’s Late Night Moves”

  1. Kyle on January 12th, 2010 3:30 pm

    I wish NBC would just wise up and dump Leno–NBC and Leno knew well in advance that his time was up–he should have just bowed out gracefully and moved on. The 10pm thing was a disaster before it started–was anyone really asking for more Leno?
    What they are doing to Conan shows such a lack of class. He patiently waited for what he was promised, only to have it taken away for no good reason. However, it shouldn’t be surprising after what they did to David Letterman when Carson left.

  2. Kay Lhota on January 12th, 2010 3:40 pm

    Wow. This moves me very much. I am older than Conan by a few years. I can remember back in the 60’s when the Tonight Show was on for 90 minutes, every night of the week, but Saturday. I can remember waiting to be old enough to stay awake late so that I finally see Johnny Carson. This is in the Summer of 1968.
    I don’t remember the year when Johnny Carson cut the Tonight Show back from 90 to 60 minutes. I do remember that when he went on vacation, he would have fabulous guest hosts. Eventually I can’t remember if it was in the late 70’s or into the early 80’s, Joan Rivers became his permenent guest host. When she went to FOX for her own talk show in 1988, Jay Leno became Johnny Carson’s permenent guest host.
    Seeing this Jay Leno show explode the way that it has is a huge disappointment, but his prime time show was not enough to keep even me, a sweet and patient by nature, aging boomer watching. What happens now, whatever the decisions will turn out to be, NBC has made a disgraceful mess.

  3. Patty on January 12th, 2010 3:54 pm

    I am not a big fan of late night TV anymore but it’s nice the Conan has some class.

    Like Kay, I can remember watching Johnny for 90 minutes when I was a kid. Then Joan and all the others. I hope at some point the NBC brass will wake up before it’s too late.

  4. JustCari on January 12th, 2010 4:01 pm

    I really hope Leno just steps down. I get that he brought in good ratings (at the later time slot), but enough is enough. It’s Conan’s turn.

  5. B on January 12th, 2010 4:07 pm

    As much as I love Leno, I gotta hand it to Conan for being such a class act. If i had moved my entire family/staff/show across the country only to be booted 7 months later to make time for a cancelled show, I don’t think i’d be as nice!

    NBC is being so shady. It would be awesome if Conan AND Leno left them high and dry.

  6. JennyL on January 12th, 2010 4:07 pm

    Poor Conan. What an awful position to be put in, but looks like he made the right decision. I can’t wait to see what other projects he gets involved with!

  7. Michelle on January 12th, 2010 4:40 pm

    That was so eloquent. Here’s hoping that NBC retires Leno’s show and let’s Conan do what he was hired to do…be funny! Good for Conan for stickign up for himself and also for sticking up for Jimmy who deserves to let his show grow into something great.

  8. Fatback on January 12th, 2010 4:55 pm

    Conan O’Brien is a badass. It’s high time that he bails from a network that has been flushing good programming down the drain for unscripted bullshit that appeals most to the bone-sucking, drooling masses.

    Jay Leno, although a funny comedian (at one time) has fallen prey to his own perceived success. Tell someone they’ve still got it enough and they’ll begin to believe it. People like Seinfeld and Larry David (folks who actually made “Must See TV”) knew when to call it a day and move on to bigger an better. NBC however, has been sucking at the Leno teat(for at least 4 years too long) and will continue to bolster a sad, visibly busted up program on an unwanting public.

    The worst part of all this is that NBC put the careers of 2 people at risk here (Conan and Jimmy Fallon) and expected everyone smile while they were getting sodomized by the 30 Rock Machine.

    It’s not just NBC, either. The other networks are just as guilty of 86’ing shows with promise for the absolute dross that is the Reality TV gravy train (SYTYCD aside…but I digress. Love you Cat!)
    Meh. I need a beer.

  9. TopTVNews on January 12th, 2010 8:06 pm

    I say let the Pale Guy do his thing! NBC has the careers of 3 people hanging in the balance. (And a huge penalty if Conan proves breach of contract!)

  10. Ryan on January 12th, 2010 8:42 pm

    To me this is the perfect example of a man who deserves to be in the comedy world. You can tell how much he loves the the comedy world when he is not willing to participate in anything he feels would destroy it. It’s not about the money, its about entertaining.

  11. mg714 on January 12th, 2010 9:19 pm

    I agree – love Conan! I don’t get why it’s so important for Leno to be on everyday – I read a suggestion on another site that maybe NBC should just give him a weekly prime-time show instead if they really feel the need to keep him on the network. It just never made sense that they did this everyday prime-time show – it would have been better to leave Jay on the Tonight Show and let Conan find a better opportunity somewhere else. It turns out that’s what might happen anyway and now the Tonight Show will be left a mess.

  12. toast with JAM on January 13th, 2010 1:15 am

    Jay Leno should have a residency contract in Las Vegas for the next 10 years if he still wants to do a show every night. He can bring in a suprise guest when celebrities are in town and he can film it for the internet if he wants the masses to see it!

  13. Mike on January 13th, 2010 11:56 am

    Conan made the right decision here, even if it will mean he will no longer be the host of the Tonight Show. There will be other opportunities if that indeed happens. I think that the people who watched Conan in the early years, don’t really watch The Tonight Show because younger people don’t really watch the local news which comes before it. Moreover, the older generations who watched Johnny and then Leno, probably just don’t get Conan’s humor. NBC needs to give him more time for the age gap and generations to catch-up to the switch in programing.

  14. saers on January 13th, 2010 3:02 pm

    I don’t know why but this who debacle has got me a lot more annoyed than I could ever expect to be. Yes, I am a Conan fan and Yes, I feel that since he left us here in NY he has been treated like the ‘red-headed stepchild’ NBC seem to perceive him to be.

    But its not just that. I think my overall annoyance stems from being sick and tired of tptb making decisions that continue to peeve the viewers. How many times have we had to deal with our favourite shows being cancelled, moved to ridiculous time-slots and/or hear that the writers have to take a certain direction due to seasons being cut short or what not. It is nothing short of annoying. I hate having my hand forced to make my voice heard whenever show I love are put in compromising situations, (Roswell back in the day, BSG, Chuck more recently), because tptb quite clearly cannot differentiate between their rear end and a hole in the ground. But I digress..

    I suppose all in all networks make ridiculous decisions ALL the time and we always have had to either deal with it or take a stand. Well this is one instance where a ridiculous decision has been made with the wrong show. One that is much too popular for the majority of viewers not to notice. In part we shouldn’t be surprised that a silly decision has been made, TPTB do it all the time. I just hope that whatever the outcome, Conan maintains his decorum and comes out with a result that is to his liking.

    Maybe this high profiled incident could help fuel change for future decisions when it comes to network programming and scheduling..but then again, it likely won’t.

    Sorry for the rant, but this really has my knickers in a twist!

  15. Heather on January 15th, 2010 12:10 am

    As a huge and long time fan of Conan, I just feel so bad for him, his staff, and all the families involved. I agree with everyone in that Leno has had a wonderful run but I feel his time is has come to an end. Conan has paid his dues and deserves his promised run at the Tonight Show. He has certainly demonstrated class while being put in an unfortunate position. Just thinking of not having Conan on at night makes me sad….I am hoping that things get worked out and that Conan stays.

  16. Mary on January 16th, 2010 2:19 pm

    What a disappointment, all the way around. Conan has been doing a fantastic job, as always. I’ve enjoyed the Tonight Show with him as host as much as I used to, when Johnny was at the helm. It’s the class these two men have. They rarely take pot shots at others, and typically keep the comedy in the forefront for us. Thank you for that all these years! Gee, I almost wish Conan had kept his late night show, but I have sooo enjoyed Jimmy Fallon, who is also doing a fantastic job filling Conan’s shoes.

    I remember hearing Jay Leno say that if this prime time show didn’t do well, he’d simply walk away, because he certainly didn’t need it. What happened, Jay?

    I agree with Conan, and thank him for being his usual, classy, honest self. The Tonight Show is an institution of comedy and should not be shoved into a later time slot simply for the sake of money and ratings.

    I humbly think that Jay should do his stand up on the road, and enjoy his life. He retired from the Tonight Show and handed it over to Conan. It should stay that way. No offense to Jay, I’ve enjoyed your comedy, but I think if you said you weren’t going to be involved in this shifting of show times fiasco, it wouldn’t happen. Think Jay, think……