Conan O’Brien Says He Won’t Host ‘Tonight’ at 12:05 A.M.

Jan 12, 2010  •  Post A Comment

Conan O’Brien released a letter to the “People of the Earth” in which he says he won’t host “The Tonight Show” if NBC moves it to 12:05 a.m., because it would “seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting,” The New York Times reports.

In the statement, O’Brien also expressed disappointment that he was never given a chance to build an audience at 11:35 p.m. He said he has no offer from another network and has “no idea what happens next.” (For the full text of the statement, click here.)

NBC said Monday that it is pulling “The Jay Leno Show” from primetime in February and wants to move it 11:35 p.m., pushing back O’Brien’s “Tonight Show” by a half-hour.

–Elizabeth Jensen


  1. And the award for the dumbest executives in media goes to…. NBC!

  2. I feel badly for Conan and he acted very classy in accepting the inevitable. Jay Leno is the irrefutable King of Late Night and NBC never should have asked him to step down. Jeff Zucker’s the one one behind this whole debacle and he should take a walk as well.
    I wish Conan all the best, but he simply was not suited to The Tonight Show. Welcome back Jay!

  3. Conan doesn’t deserve the same rights as Carson and those before him because he didn’t allow Leno the same rights. Leno should have been able to continue until he, and not NBC and Conan, wanted him to retire. Had they sat back and let him remain #1 and continue then everything would have transitioned just fine when the time came because Leno would have been done and not looking for another job. Leno had only worked a fraction of the time Carson was allowed for his voluntary retirement and wasn’t finished yet! Truth be known Conan hasn’t done well at his new slot retaining a lead over Letterman and now he shoved his way to the front two early he’s already screwed Leno and now he knows he’ll screw Fallon too if he moves back. Conan jumped the gun here, as did NBC, and they are at fault, NOT LENO. Leno never did a thing wrong. I’m a Leno and Fallon fan and will NOT watch Conan…period…and I’m 21 so just because Conan is younger doesn’t mean his hyperactive but humorless show will appeal to me! Good luck Leno, Fallon, and Daly. I’m sorry Mr. O’Brien screwed everything up for you!

  4. I feel sorry for anyone who uproots his family and moves 3000 miles for a job full of promise. It can happen in any business but in show business, this provides great fodder for ALL of the late night entertainment hosts. The 10pm “experiment” was doomed to fail but NBC backed itself in a corner. Frankly, Leno is mediocre at best and when he invaded our primetime viewing, it became even more apparent. What a great reason to fall asleep and miss the 11pm news which incensed local affiliates. In many ways, O’Brien is no better but he is in place. Let him build his audience. Put Leno on indefinite leave. Fire Jeff Zucker.

  5. Leno – could you possibly take a piece of humble pie! First to backstab your “friend” Letterman and now be so gauche to shove averyone aside so they can make room for you? Do the right thing and step down. YOu”ve had your Fame, Money, and Mavis…and 2 outta 3 ain’t bad. Whatever Greedmeister. Look at this as a second chance to actually do the right thing.

  6. NBC: Grow some cahones.
    LENO: take your mediocre talent, your HORRIBLE band-leader and your condescension away… far away.
    This “nice guy” image Leno has is so thin I’m shocked at how many people cannot see through it. Watch night-shift again.
    Conan got your job. He deserved it. Let him have his time.

  7. Why doesn’t Conan remember who gave him his start. He should be grateful to NBC who invested heavily on him when he was considered a loser in his early years. When you make it to the big-time you are supposed to bring your audience with you, you’ve already been given a chance to build an audience. Let’s face it, you just don’t have what it takes to play the starring role.

  8. this is NOT about Conan. This is about Leno FAILING!
    What is this cheer-leading for Leno about?

  9. It’s called “The Tonight Show”. It’s supposed to start at 11:35pm!!!! Not at 12:05am!!! It’s no longer “Tonight”!!!!! And Conan said “NO WAY”!!! Ya Think?!!!

  10. NBC messed up, period. What people may not remember is Johnny Carson didn’t exactly volunteer to leave, but was pressured into the decision by NBC executives who felt Carson (even though he was king of latenight and the ratings in his time period) and from the Leno camp. Carson’s ‘heir-apparent’ pick was actually David Letterman, not Jay Leno. Like Carson, Letterman was a private person and didn’t like to butter-up affiliate executives, thus he was not always considered a team player. Leno was willing to smooze with the affiliate executives, ergo, that gave him brownie points with the NBC executives. First and foremost, Leno has made a lot of money for NBC and its affiliates…and hey, that’s his job to capture audience, ratings points and national advertising dollars. Conan, was great in his time period and after seventeen years felt it was his time to sit in the famed Tonight Show seat. Thus, Conan put the pressure on NBC to promise him the 11:35PM slot within a specified time period, or he’d take his talent elsewhere. Respect that Conan was aging and wanted his chance as well. Conan was a good sport in waiting a few extra years, but, not to wait forever. Simply put, NBC did not want to lose either talent with respect if both talents went ‘head-to-head’, NBC was sure to lose audience share. However, NBC should have held onto its established talent Leno and let Conan go across the street. The pie is divided between Kimmel, Lettewman and now Leno who will now move back to take hold of the Tonight Show…and I hope Conan get’s his 11PM EST gig with FOX. NBC’s got a real mess and its time to bite the bullet and get on with life. From what I can see, Comcast will be a good change from GE Management which never understood broadcasting in the first place. …Zucker, you suck!
    – Andrew, MALL727net –

  11. Um, that would be Lorne Michaels who gave him his start and who fought for him, not any slow-witted NBC exec. And certainly not that weasel Leno.

  12. Leno was the one who was dumb enough to agree to all this six years ago. He and Zucker decided to play chicken with the franchise, because Fox was wooing Conan back then. Leno should be a man and walk away instead of continuing to bludgeon a treasured brand’s reputation. But time and time again, Leno has shown with his actions that he is more corporate weasel than man. As for Zucker, he should go sell Slap Chops.

  13. O’Brien’s okay, but he never had the right talents to host the Tonight Show. Overly frenetic in an attempt to overcome his general lack of likability.

  14. I remember everyone saying exactly the same thing about Leno 18 years ago…although in that case they were right.

  15. Didn’t Leno WANT to retire? He didn’t have to leave the Tonight Show. And if he can’t make it in prime time, maybe it’s because people find him boring. The most interesting thing about his show are the stupid headlines comedy bit. Leno should be gracious, take his millions of dollars and his dozens of cars, and step aside. Let Conan have the slot and his turn in the sun without Leno casting a shadow.

  16. Exactly. Anybody else in this situation (voluntarily retiring from The Tonight Show!) would understood the conseqences of such a move, and would move on. Maybe after their replacement was gone, they would entertain talk about a return. But Leno is a classless opportunist, and Zucker/Gaspin(g) are running a sinking ship, so apparently it’s OK that they run their business like its the Old West…or a bad reality show.
    When Johnny Carson left, he left. He wasn’t even that fond of Leno, but he didn’t loom over him like a vulture.

  17. The majority has spoken. And I will assume that most readers and commentors on this site are industry savvy. Leno is a turd. His true colors are showing. And as for “likeability” if the majority of the viewing public find him more likeable than the others… well, it says a lot about the state of America.

  18. Great blog, appreciate the effort put into this post! Thanks! 😀

  19. It seems that most of the commenters dont even read the post till the end.

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