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January 12, 2010

Conan O'Brien to NBC: Drop Dead

He's not moving back to after Leno.

He wants a Fox deal, I reckon, and will get one.


People of Earth:

In the last few days, Iíve 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, Iíve been getting paid to do what I love most and, in a world with real problems, Iíve been absurdly lucky. That said, Iíve 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 isnít 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 doesnít 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; itís always been that way.

Yours,

Conan

Conan has either been mistreated by NBC or treated well by them... depending on how you look at it. For most of his 16 years, he was basically re-upped every few months (or some short period). They would never commit to him. They were thinking about dumping him and replacing him constantly.

Finally after ten years, his ratings were solid enough they started to sign long-term contracts with him, and then they offered him this Tonight show gig, which frankly never suited him. (Come on -- he's a late late night guy.)

So... did NBC treat him badly, or did they treat him well to suffer along with his odd mannerisms and so-so ratings for so long? Not sure.

Anyway, this seems to mimic the whole clusterf*ck NBC got into 15 years ago with the Letterman/Leno thing, trying to keep both guys, etc.

digg this
posted by Ace at 03:30 PM

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