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Breaking News: Conan O'Brien Says He Won't Do The Tonight Show at 12:05

Breaking: Conan O'Brien Says He Won't Do The Tonight Show at 12:05

After making jokes about his options last night, Conan O'Brien has just released a statement saying that he will not move to 12:05 a.m. with The Tonight Show, as proposed by NBC over the weekend at the Winter TCA.

O'Brien insists it's for the good of show, saying, "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."

He also says that he currently has no other offers from other networks, as has been rumored. To read Conan's full statement, just

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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.

Yours,

Conan

Image Source: WireImage
Join The Conversation
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 7 years
Yeah, my sources are friends in the industry so they probably aren't concrete either (although you would hope journalists would be but I can attest to them not always being factual). I'm just bitter, haha. Jay very well could have had good intentions and it was NBC that messed everything up. I just want Conan though. Ah...if this is all I am bitter about - I'm doing good. Don't you hate when they move a show to a different timeslot? Friday night is the kiss of death for shows. Life started out on (Mondays?) and got moved to Friday nights and my hubby and I thought it would be cancelled soon after. But it actually got good ratings and they brought it back to the beginning of the week.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
Ah, I see. Yeah, I'd just heard things through the grapevine through friends who work in the industry, so I don't really have any concrete sources. I have some friends who work for the NBC affiliate in Dayton, OH, and they were really unhappy about the changes, too! I didn't watch Life, but I remember thinking that if any of my 10:00 shows got cancelled, I was going to be very upset! I love Law and Order: SVU and I figured it wouldn't get canceled because it is really popular, but I knew they would have to move it around and I think the move has been to the show's detriment.
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 7 years
Hi lilkimbo. My husband had worked for the local NBC affiliate (when he was still in TV) and it's what he heard through that grapevine. Although the local news station was against the changes so they very well could have put a spin on it. I have heard about the contracts issues too and about it being cheaper to produce than scripted drama. I have no doubt that it is. I'm still bitter about losing Life :-)
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
Yoga, I'd always heard that it was NBC who had first approached Leno about staying with the network and doing a 10:00 show. Where did you hear that he was the one who was not willing to give up having a show? (I'm not saying you're wrong, I'm just curious as to where you heard it.) I also get the impression that it is not that NBC executives are "catering" to Leno now, but rather that they have contracts with both Leno and O'Brien and are trying to avoid losing them, since the network will have to pay them for the remainders of their contracts anyway. I'm not saying Leno is completely innocent in everything, but I think a lot of people here are being way too quick to vilify him when it's the network executives, not him, who are planning the shake-ups and who came up with the idea for his 10:00 in the first place. I've never heard any indication that NBC scrapped their 10:00 shows to give Leno "the time slot he wanted." From what I've heard, they didn't want to lose him to another network, so they came up with the idea and approached him because, even with his large salary, his show costs significantly less to make than an hour-long scripted drama.
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 7 years
When I heard that Conan was inheriting the Tonight Show, i was so excited. I could not stand Jay Leno and watched Letterman instead. Now I record both Conan and Letterman. I was upset when Jay was not willing to give up a show and NBC decided to cancel their entire weekday lineup at 10 pm. They cancelled Life (a great show - one of the few well written shows NBC had) so that Jay could still be in the limelight. Part of the reason they are getting/moving Jay's 10 pm show is because the local 11:00 news shows are suffering and have dropped ratings. Our local NBC new show was number 1 for over a decade at the 11:00 spot, and it has now sunk to number 2 because people are not watching Leno's show. From what I understand, many local new stations have made loud complaints to NBC about Leno causing a drop in their ratings. Leno needs to step down and not insist on a show. NBC execs are making a big mistake catering to this one man and throwing their entire evening lineup out the window to accomodate him. They got rid of good shows to give Leno the timeslot he wanted, and now they want to destroy the Tonight Show and Late Night Show all to accomodate this self-involved man. If Leno cared about the Tonight Show, even he would stand against moving it's time slot. Also, I'd like NBC to remove some of the restrictions they put on Conan, let him do more of the jokes/characters that he did when he had the Late Show. We love his quirkiness, that's why we watch him! Team Conan!
hbrown12 hbrown12 7 years
Conan is a classy guy. He cares about more than himself, but the integrity of the show he inherited and has idolized since he was young. I really respect this guy. I've watched Conan since he was on the Late Show, and I think it is incredibly thoughtful of him to not bump that show back as well. Leno has had his time in the limelight and its time for him to step down and let others partake in this franchise. I wish Conan and his team the best of luck. GO TEAM CONAN ALL THE WAY!!
redchick152 redchick152 7 years
i've haven't caught either show regularly (i'm usually in bed by 11!), but i must say that i always enjoyed conan when i saw him and i have always thought he was hilarious. jay...not so much. this letter makes me like conan even more!!
nonmr nonmr 7 years
I'm on Team CoCo all the way! Don't let "The Chin" and those NBC guys (who got my blood boil with that Chuck scare) get into you ;D
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
Zeze, Leno actually averages close to the same number of viewers now as he did when he hosted The Tonight Show. It's just that 5 million viewers is a lot for late night, but not for primetime.
kimmieb124 kimmieb124 7 years
I love Conan's letter. This is a really stupid and desperate move by NBC, a network trying to save itself from sinking futher into ratings oblivion only to make the situation worse. I hope that NBC can work things out with Conan and if not I hope Conan gets picked up by another network for the 11:30 timeslot.
Miss-Shapes Miss-Shapes 7 years
Support for Conan is overwhelming. NBC must be feeling like the utter losers that they are. Didn't everyone predict their Leno experiment was going to be a failure?
LovlyRita LovlyRita 7 years
VIVA LA CONANDO!
zeze zeze 7 years
Leno is not funny. People watched him because they were used to watching The Tonight Show at that time...hence why no one moved with him to the earlier time slot. The few times I've tuned in to Conan's old show he's actually been funny. Leno is the old style that no longer works...really lame and obvious punchlines, Conan is this new style of comedy kind of like Colbert and the Daily Show where the persona of the person giving the jokes matters as much as the joke. NBC will regret this, especially after how Conan is reacting and coming out the good guy, in addition to being funnier, I'm not sure The Tonight Show will recover.
juiceejuice juiceejuice 7 years
Coco Christopher forever! I've never watched Leno's show and if he gets the Tonight Show back, I'll won't watch that either! NBC is so out of touch - the only thing from NBC that I watch is 30 Rock and Conan
amofoz amofoz 7 years
Jay "nicest guy in hollywood" my ass! Step down and let Conan do the Tonight Show just like you had the opportunity to do (and messed up)!
Lavinie Lavinie 7 years
Good for Conan. I don't really watch either show but i was upset at how the network treated Conan. Even the deal of giving Leno a talk show at 10 p.m. was a way of being disrespectful towards Conan. I think Conan is a funny guy and they should have backed him 100% not Leno. Leno is not funny and he really needs to just let go.
oohsexypenguin oohsexypenguin 7 years
I've never really watched the Tonight Show, to be honest. When Jay was hosting, I would turn it on only when he had a guest I was really interested in. Now, though, I watch for the guests AND the host. Conan is funny, engaging, and has shown that he has class. NBC is doing him a great disservice by even putting him in this situation to begin with. Jay, you had your run - bow out now and give Conan his chance to shine. It's the right thing to do.
dragonfly7 dragonfly7 7 years
Leno is stale. Conan is hilarious and gracious. NBC sucks. Team Conan (or CoCo) 100%
Relli80 Relli80 7 years
I agree with almost everything everyone has posted. I remember watching Johnny Carson too and the debacle that went down with Jay and Dave. And as the date was approaching for Conan I had a bad feeling about it because it seemed that Jay was not ready to quit. I got hooked on Conan years ago when I was stuck in an apartment with no cable and he is beyond hysterical. I think the NBC execs are like MANY of those who are in charge of corporations/government/studios and are very out of touch with the general population. It's too bad for him and his entire staff that he moved and i am sure he feels responsible for them uprooting their lives to follow the show. Team COCO is right!
suziryder suziryder 7 years
The Jay Leno Show is terrible. Leno is not that funny. Moving the show to a later time slot will not change that. NBC is being irrational and just plain stupid about this. They should just ditch Leno without messing with the Tonight Show. I think what Conan is doing is noble.
drea12576 drea12576 7 years
This man is a true class act! Good for him for not bowing down to TV executives and standing up for what is right. When Jay decided to leave the Tonight Show he should have just left. He is not funny, never has he been funny. NBC is doing a great disservice to late night by even trying to make this deal. GO Conan, I will follow you anywhere!
wackdoodle wackdoodle 7 years
Right on Conan! I actually now watch The Tonight Show after years and years of not watching it cause I didn't like Jay Leno's attempts at humor. Leno is not funny to me and he was such a pandering host of TTS that I couldn't watch an entire episode (only watched when Keanu was a guest). Conan is hilarious and doesn't pander to guests, he makes every guest more human makes them laugh at themselves. I hope NBC ends up having to pay Conan so much for breach of contract that it bankrupts them and the network goes off the air.
amybdk amybdk 7 years
Team Conan!
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