Word from inside the NBC camp states that Conan O’Brien is nearing a deal with the network to walk away from “The Tonight Show” with a cool 40 million in his pocket. The offiical announcement has yet to be made, but people assume that Conan’s best bet is to hop on over to Fox where he might be able to restart their late night regime.
It’s been a long time since a late night host dared to tackle the Fox Network, (remember “The Chevy Chase Show”?) so the affiliate stations could be very skeptical about jumping into fierce competition with so many established talents. The network would have to convince the owners that Conan could earn decent ratings before they decide to bring him on board. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Fox has been mulling a late-night talk show with Mr. O’Brien, who is likely to host his last episode of “The Tonight Show” on Friday.”
The network won’t approach O’Brien until he is free and clear of NBC and their contractual red tape. Sources close to the situation are saying that he won’t be permitted to host another TV show until September at the earliest. There is division over at Fox between the creative types and the financial brass, who are afraid that O’Brien won’t have what it takes to bring in the money.
Usually during the late shift Fox airs syndicated reruns against Letterman, Kimmel, Fallon, Ferguson, and of course Conan. Some people are down to give the host a shot, but the final decision remains up in the air. No deals will be made until he’s out of his contract, but with Fox’s checkered history with late night who knows if he’ll succeed or fail?
Do you think Fox should take a risk on Conan? Would you watch his show if he made the jump to the network?