Conan O’Brien will debut a Monday through Thursday latenight talk show on basic cable network TBS in November, TBS has announced. The hour-long show will begin at 11 p.m.
Said O’Brien in a written statement: "In three months I’ve gone from network television to Twitter to performing live in theaters, and now I’m headed to basic cable. My plan is working perfectly.”
George Lopez’ latenight show on TBS, "Lopez Tonight," will start an hour later, at midnight, once O’Brien joins the TBS line-up.
In an article titled "How the Conan O’Brien-TBS Deal Happened," Bill Carter of the New York Times says that initially O’Brien turned TBS down because he did not want to kick Lopez out of his time slot. For O’Brien is was shades of what happened at NBC, when that network wanted Leno to push O’Brien and the "Tonight" show back an hour.
However, Carter writes, "[T]hat position changed after another phone call. [O’Brien’s manager Gavin] Polone said that Mr. Lopez himself called Mr. O’Brien personally. ‘George called Conan to sell Conan on this idea. He was all for it. It really was George who made this happen.’
O’Brien had been neogotiating with Fox, but those negotiations turned difficult because a number of Fox stations are already committed to syndicated programming at 11 p.m.
Anorther factor that made the TBS deal happen so quickly is that it was clear the Turner Entertainment President Steve Koonin wanted it to happen and paved the way for a deal that O’Brien and his team could eagerly embrace.
Fox affiliates generally greeted the announcement that O’Brien was going to TBS–and not Fox Broadcasting–with relief, reports B&C.