Conan O’Brien Explains Why His Show Is Being Cut in Half — and Also Revisits NBC’s Late-Night ‘Clusterf–k’ Back in 2010

Jun 4, 2018  •  Post A Comment

Conan O’Brien opened up about a subject that never seems to go away, which he called the “inevitable clusterf–k” at NBC back in 2010 concerning himself, Jay Leno and who would end up with the “Tonight Show.”

“Without getting into specifics, there were a few people who I felt were not being good human beings,” O’Brien said of the NBC late-night fiasco in an interview with Vulture. “But I see that what happened was an inevitable clusterfuck. I had a bad feeling the minute NBC said, ‘You’re going to go do “The Tonight Show” but Jay’s also going to be on at 10 doing a “Tonight Show” before your “Tonight Show.”’ It’s like when the Bachelor can’t decide: All three of us were not going to fit in that hot tub.”

O’Brien also commented on the recent news that his TBS show is being cut back from an hour to a half-hour in 2019. According to O’Brien, it was more of a creative decision than a business move.

“The truth is that the initial resistance to half an hour came from the business side,” he told Vulture. “They didn’t want to stop selling an hour’s worth of ads. But we’re not going to be giving them less content. We might even be making more content and just putting more of it directly online.”

O’Brien suggests in the interview that the standard hour formula in late-night may be a bit stale, and says the wildly popular travel shows he has been doing “changed my thinking. There was no one standing over me saying, ‘This is what those shows have to be.’ It was just, ‘Let’s go do them.’”

He adds: “I like interviews but does it have to be three guests a night? There are parts of late night-that feel very pro forma. At this stage in my career doing half an hour could shock me into coming up with new stuff.”

We encourage readers to click on the link above to Vulture to read the in-depth interview.


  1. Conan should stop bitching about what happened at NBC. Idiot Jeff Zucker who ran NBC at the time, wrote a $40 million golden parachute into Conan’s contract when he took over the Tonight Show. It didn’t work out. So my question to Conan is: did you share any of that $40 mil with your staff?

  2. Read the news… The $40m holdout was Conan ensuring that his staff was taken care of. His initial offer was $15m

  3. Could possibly dropping the show from an hour to a half hour have anything to do with ratings? I’ve have not seen recent ratings for his show so I don’t know how they are but, anytime a show is dropped, or the time of the show is reduced, it usually has something to do with ratings. Does anyone know?

    If he gets the same pay for 1/2 the work, that’s a great situation for him.

  4. Why yes, Michael Schwartz, he actually did pay out of his own pocket ensuring every one of his staff received at least six weeks salary. Do you feel like the typical internet comment troll that you are?

  5. Conan is such a whiner and a loser. He NEVER was up to the talent level to host The Tonight Show…and in fact if Conan had PRODUCED STRONG RATINGS when he had The Tonight Show, NBC never would have moved Conan out, and Leno back in. So Conan had no one to blame but himself, for losing The Tonight Show. And he is lazy. He never has done more than 4 shows a week on TBS (why not Fridays?), and now only 30 minutes. Really? Conan is an overpaid, overrated spoiled little baby.

  6. I liked Conan’s show and Jay’s show. It worked they way it was. They decided to break it. On occasion, I will see a bit of Conan’s show, but he usually has these nobody guests. Given, I hate all the late night talks shows now. I hate their hosts and stupid smug attitudes. They aren’t enjoyable, but Conan was better back then (say in the late 90s). You didn’t have six different talks shows at the same basic time on four networks. I don’t imagine this show will be around for to many more years. It’s sad that we will still have to endure hearing about these other idiots on the main networks.

  7. Dear Conan, I was sad when I saw your final show on TBS. I didn’t know about your choice to go on hiatus or come back for a half hour comedy show. It completely took me by surprise. A sad surprise. I’ve watched you since the first show and hung there until Letterman came your show and gave you a boost. I would anticipate your show each night with your regulars and the way Adam Sandler would call you Coney. I’m going to miss you so much. Darnit, I just wish you could have have done the late show on Conan show for much longer. So sad. Well, good luck and I hope to see you soon. Thanks for the memories. ”I bid you a very heartfelt good night.”

  8. Need more Conan-time…absolutely love him! Give him 2 hours please!

  9. Personally I think his show is getting a bit stale in general, he doesn’t seem to be into much anymore.

  10. Well he was stupid no Jay leno… he just bad mouthed Trump and I wanted Johnny Carson no politics I did not watch any of them as they are addicted to bad mouthing the President ….so if they all disappear fine with me ….

  11. Watching the new half hour shows feels like I’m taking a beloved pet to the vet, knowing it’s going to be put down. There’s a feeling of doom that you can’t shake.

  12. I like the new half hour format. It concentrates more on the guest and less on the monolog and silly games etc. that most of the time are not funny and just a waste of time.

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