!! OMG, Breaking: Conan Quits! !!

Conan O’B, America’s most beleaguered ginger, just released the following statement:

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.



Conan notes that to move to 12:05 would be “unfair” to Jimmy Fallon– a consideration that is obviously beyond Leno’s grasp.
Whether or not any of this can be called Jay Leno’s “fault” is debatable, but it surely reminds us that being a talentless hack will take you to the top of the heap and keep you there!

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19 Comments on "OMG, Breaking: Conan Quits!"

  1. What an incredibly misleading headline- that isn’t a resignation, it’s a matter of leverage- and it seems to be working.
    People who say Leno was “forced out” should realize that he was “forced out” only in the way Carson was. Carson was easing toward retirement, but the machinations of Leno and his then-manager Helen Kushnick forced his hand after they began planting rumors that Carson was on his way out. It took two years for Leno to start beating Letterman in the ratings, which is what O’Brien refers to when he says that his predecessor was “given time.” O’Brien is still making money for the network and should have been given the same courtesy that Leno, the weasel, was.

  2. When people throw around the meme that “Leno beat Letterman” they are forgetting that for the first 2 years he was on the air Leno was soundly beaten by Letterman. It wasn’t until the Hugh Grant interview that anyone paid attention to Leno. Add to that an incredibly strong lead-in from a then #1 NBC prime time lineup.
    Conan has been given neither the time nor the lead-in to build an audience. Plus potential guests have been siphoned off by the horrible Leno 10pm show. Imagine if Carson decided to stay on the air and take all the good guests when Leno started. Leno would have been off the air in a few months.
    Leno is a selfish asswipe who has nothing new to say and has never been funny or fun. Fuck him.

  3. Smart. i love you Conan… Stay strong… You’re correct.

  4. Well said “clarklane”. I couldn’t agree with you more about Conan and his lack of talent.
    @Bmad, Like “!”, I would really like to know more about your writing pursuits. I have to admit you caught me off guard with that statement! Im being serious here – NO sarcasam!. I would really like to read something written by you. What genre is your interest in ( or do I need to guess), are you published, if so, how do I get copies, do you autograph copies for people? Give me some sort of info. You probably have my email, sowrite to me directly if you like or don’t want to post info here. Thanks in advance.
    Also, I haven’t forgotten my promise to send pics to post. As you can see by the time, I’ve had another late night with the “Boys”. Hope to hear from you.

  5. I think it’s ridiculous how NBC is acting. Jay Leno was supposed to retire when he left the show and the only reason they gave him a show was because they had good ratings with him and they needed something to fill the 10 pm timeslot. I used to like Leno more than Conan but I think Conan has done a really great job doing the Tonight Show and now I actually prefer Conan over Leno.
    I think if people give Conan more time to build an audience, I think it will do well. When Leno took over Carson, it took years before he garnered a following and the same thing applies here. Leno has had a good career and it’s time for him to retire and bring in a fresh, younger group to late night. NBC took Leno over Letterman in 1992 and if they take Leno again over Conan in 2010, they’re going to lose another large fanbase to another network.

  6. No one else is vomiting with rage that the first comment was an endorsement for Carson Daly? If the twin Jimmies make you look like a talentless idiot, you’re a talentless idiot.
    I used to enjoy Conan. Not enough to watch him, but what I saw was good enough. These days Craig Ferguson is the only thing watchable on network TV.

  7. “most beleaguered ginger”, that name should stick.
    If they did proceed with a setup of Leno for 30 and Conan with 60, then it *might* work out best for the network ratings-wise. Leno held top ratings when he was on TNS, so if he does the lead-in, he might be able to beat Letterman for the first 30 min. After the first 30, how many people won’t want to flip channels to start watching Letterman in the middle of his show?
    Personally, I couldn’t care less one way or the other, I watch neither.

  8. I have often wondered why Conan has a show at all. I find him un-funny, not clever at all, and mostly boring. His ‘band’ is horrible, and that Max guy is just plain creepy. His reaction to this situation has raised his standing a smidge in my eyes, but I still think he has no talent. When it was announced that he would host the legendary Tonight Show I predicted that it wouldn’t last a year. And so it goes.

  9. @Bmad – indeed, considering that what NBC’s chosen to do is a vote of no-confidence, Conan would be wise to take his money and leave for greener pastures (even if the show stays at 11:30p). Who can he trust there anymore?

  10. @Eko, while that’s technically true, I think the odds of that happening are pretty slim at this point– this is effectively a resignation. hard to believe NBC managed to fuck this up so badly, and in such a public way. or maybe it’s not.

  11. what books does Bmad write?

  12. Conan has only “quit” if The Tonight Show gets pushed to a later time slot, if it stays where it is he will continue to host it.

  13. @CB – Turning the blame on Conan rings false. When he pushed during contract talks in 2004, NBC could have simply written up a contract that promised him TNS upon Leno’s retirement. Instead, those execs pushed Jay out, only to have the execs who followed them get cold feet and sign him to a show “just in case.” A major fuck-up all around.
    That said, the proper thing to do here is for Jay to step down completely and let TNS continue rather than ensure it’s death.

  14. CB, I don’t have particularly strong feelings about Conan O’B and I think all this preciousness over the sanctity of The Tonight Show as an institution is kind of ridiculous considering how obvious it is that Letterman has inherited the Carson mantle. (Anachronistic as it to even talk about such a thing…)
    Clearly, the complete idiots at NBC must shoulder most of the blame for the way the whole situation has been handled. It’s obvs no big surprise that a bunch of TV executives are dickless incompetents.
    Regardless of whose “fault” the situation is, I think the animus towards Jay is due to what he represents: a supposedly once-talented comedian who has at every juncture chosen to sell himself and everyone else in order to fill his garage with motorcycles and Ferraris. (Or whatever his garage is full of.)
    Yes, it worked. Yes, it’s Hollywood, where all bets are I suppose somewhat off when it comes to honor. But for those of us in creative fields (I write books for a living when I’m not doing OMG Blog) the triumph of Mr. Leno’s slobbering, gutless “comedy” is the most depressing thing in the world. His cockroach-like ability to always come out on top represents the triumph of careerist, focus-grouped crap over anything with actual heart.

  15. I learned what Leno was all about January 17th , 1994 after the Northridge earthquake. One of his assistants and I were forced to move into temporary housing together after we both lost our apartments in the quake. That very night while we were trying to rescue her cat from her apartment, which was ripped off it’s foundation, Leno called and yelled at me to get his “fucking assistant” on the phone, he then berated her for 30 minutes on why he was going to fire her for not getting the show up and running THAT NIGHT. NBC had evacuated their building and weren’t letting anyone in until city workers could come say it was ok to let people in, but he didn’t believe things were that bad because his house in Bel Air barely shook. He called her imcompetent and hung up. She had just lost EVERYTHING and was homeless and he didn’t even bother to help, he was pissed that he wasn’t getting HIS way. There were 9 of us in that temporary space all sleeping on the floor, we just sat there wondering how he got to be so nasty while she sat there and cried. He is the fucking devil and I will never forget how he yelled at me to get her on the phone.

  16. Your sly attempt to put the blame on Leno is ludicrous. The reason that O’Brien got the Tonight Show in the first place was his threat to possibly leave NBC six years ago. The higher echelon felt Leno would slide in his ratings and went with the (commercially run) 18-49 demographics which was O’Briens base. Leno’s “talentless hack” humor, as you refer to it, kept the Tonight Show number one in overall late night ratings throughout his tenure; currently O’Brien is number three, behind Nightline, and it shoudl be noted that before the shift, O’Brien was losing his late night ratings to Craig Ferguson. The one to feel sorry for is Leno, who has been the punching bag not just in all this, but for years at NBC as a whole. They booted Leno, he didn’t request to leave. O’Brien pushed and got what he wanted, then blew it. Neither he nor his show are funny or good, and neither is Leno’s 10PM format. NBC made a massive mistake, and now that they are trying to correct it, have made matters worse. Personally, I would boot them all (including the head of NBC programming) and grab Craig Ferguson. NBC is currently in the same situation that CBS was in the late 60’s/early 70’s, when CBS decided to cancel it’s top 10 rural comedies (Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, Petticoat Junction, Hogan’s Heroes, etc.), and lost viewership tenfold. It took CBS years to regain the #1 spot. FYI, nearly all the top 10 CBS shows which are popular thoughout the populous today, are not popular in the ‘commerical’ demographics (18-49) which is televisions standard.

  17. I really don’t understand why one retires from a talk show to start another talk show….

  18. I never much liked Conan’s comedic style, but the man has class and my respect. I can’t say the same for Mr. Leno.

  19. Oh, poor Conan. He was as amusing as dirt. Letterman and the cult favorite Craig Ferguson smashed NBC in the time slot. I only hope the edgy Carson Daly gets priority over O’brien and Leno.

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