Conan O'Brien To NBC: NO THANKS

Conan O'Brien says he's rejecting NBC's attempt to move "The Tonight Show" to a post-midnight slot to accommodate Jay Leno's return to late-night.

In a statement Tuesday, O'Brien says that NBC has given him a scant seven months to try to establish himself as host of "Tonight."

NBC wants to move "The Jay Leno Show" out of prime-time and to the 11:35 p.m. EST daily slot, bumping "Tonight" to 12:05 p.m. EST.

O'Brien said he hoped he and NBC could resolve the issue quickly so he could do a show of which he and his crew could be proud — "for a company that values our work" — raising the possibility he might go to another network. But he said he has no such offer.

(Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed)

Conan O'Brien Statement

People of Earth:

In the last few days, I’ve been getting a lot of sympathy calls, and I want to start by making it clear that no one should waste a second feeling sorry for me. For 17 years, I’ve been getting paid to do what I love most and, in a world with real problems, I’ve been absurdly lucky. That said, I’ve been suddenly put in a very public predicament and my bosses are demanding an immediate decision.

Six years ago, I signed a contract with NBC to take over The Tonight Show in June of 2009. Like a lot of us, I grew up watching Johnny Carson every night and the chance to one day sit in that chair has meant everything to me. I worked long and hard to get that opportunity, passed up far more lucrative offers, and since 2004 I have spent literally hundreds of hours thinking of ways to extend the franchise long into the future. It was my mistaken belief that, like my predecessor, I would have the benefit of some time and, just as important, some degree of ratings support from the prime-time schedule. Building a lasting audience at 11:30 is impossible without both.

But sadly, we were never given that chance. After only seven months, with my Tonight Show in its infancy, NBC has decided to react to their terrible difficulties in prime-time by making a change in their long-established late night schedule.

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.



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  • by KMJ Location: LA on Jan 15, 2010 at 08:52 AM
    I think it is a PR stunt to boost NBC's ratings and get people to switch off Letterman.
  • by GARY Location: SUWANEE GA on Jan 12, 2010 at 07:36 PM
    CONAN can go.he isn't funny,and he is the ugliest person on tv.GOOD RIDDANCE!!!!!!
  • by Anonymous on Jan 12, 2010 at 05:54 PM
    Isn't this a breach of contract on NBC's part? I mean, could Conan just up and leave after 7 months if it was working for *him*? I don't think so. If this is how NBC is going to treat him, he'd be better off going somewhere else. I'd be sure to follow him to whatever network grants him a home.
  • by VLD on Jan 12, 2010 at 04:28 PM
    Look out! These networks just messed up and Conan knows it. See in the picture? LOOK OUT OBONGA I AM THE BOOGIE MAN!
  • by who knows comedy? Location: Havelock, NC on Jan 12, 2010 at 03:39 PM
    Maybe I don't know comedy, but I really get Conan. I literally will stay up, after the late news just to catch his opening act. I can not help but feel sorry, yet I hope NBC crashes for making such stupid decisions. He moved across country for crying out loud!! Anywho, I will follow Conon whereever he goes
  • by Bill Location: Greenville on Jan 12, 2010 at 03:02 PM
    NBC never gave Conan a chance, Leno at ten, means Conan was still competing with Leno, Letterman, Kimmel, Fallon and the guy that does the show after letterman for guests. Conan was never put as NBC's late night guy, putting LEno at ten, with the amount of promotion needed, and the attention for it to have a chance to work hit conan hard... Letterman was getting 3.1 million viewers against Leno at 11:30, since leno left, Letterman is getting 3.3 million viewers. Conan has the ability to host the Tonight show for the next 30 years, in a carson type run, NBC needs to get rid of Jay, And let Conan run for at least another year before the do this re-shuffling BS
  • by Jethro Bodine Location: New Bern on Jan 12, 2010 at 02:06 PM
    Co Co is a No-No. Leno is is a No-No. Letterman is No Better, Man. Kimmel Schimmel
  • by gary Location: nc on Jan 12, 2010 at 02:05 PM
    I agree conan stinks. They haven't had a good tonight show since johnny carson which means I don't care for leno either. Thankfully I have direct tv and more channels don't I'd do what I did before,watch pbs
  • by Darren Location: Kill Devil Hills on Jan 12, 2010 at 01:55 PM
    I think Conan should go to Comedy Central. He would be great to have his own show for a timeslot on that network. Conan is hilarious. Have him moved to 10:00 then.
  • by me Location: choco on Jan 12, 2010 at 01:13 PM
    conan stinks, didnt like him b 4 dont like him now. the worst thing nbc could have done was move their dramas out of 10pm slot and put leno in there. i watch nbc all the time and at 10 i start surfing the other networks, then go back at 11 for witn news.

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