We knew this would happen sooner or later. NBC continues to play around with both Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien‘s late night futures and the hosts aren’t going to take it anymore. The network has stated that they want to keep Leno on their roster even though they’re canceling his show at its 10 pm slot on February 12th. Their new preliminary plan is to have it air for half an hour, followed by an hour long “Tonight Show,” and guess what Conan said f*ck that!
Over at the NY Times, O’Brien recently released a statement that said he won’t stay on as the host of “The Tonight Show” if Leno is pushed back to 11:35pm causing his show to air after midnight. In an open letter to fans around the world, the host wrote about the amount of sympathy he’s received from “Tonight Show” watchers who have been following his recent battle with NBC. He stated that 6 years ago he made a contract with the network to take over “The Tonight Show,” once Leno left, but his show hasn’t been given a fair shot. Here’s the rest of what O’Brien had to say…
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.
Are any of us really surprised by Conan’s reaction to this whole thing? NBC can’t have their cake and eat it too! If they were that eager to get rid of Leno in late night, what sense does it make for them to bring him back? They’re showing no respect for the business model that’s been maintained by the show’s predecessors, and their completely ignoring everyone else who isn’t in Jay’s orbit. What about Jimmy Fallon?!
Do you think NBC will take Conan’s threat seriously? Do you think he’s doing the right thing?