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Conan O'Brien: Class Clown, Class Act

Teamcoco  Conan O'Brien, one of the funnier people on television these days, has had enough. He's not playing second fiddle anymore, and he's taking his frustrations to the press in his own eloquent and tongue in cheek  way. And to this, I say Bravo.

The clusterfuck that has been the NBC late night lineup since the braintrust decided that Jay Leno, who, for some reason that is an utter mystery to me, is revered as some kind of late night god, should have his show at 10:00 pm has imploded. Now, as the network execs throw all their balls in the air and try to juggle time slots and what show should go where, Conan O'Brien, who inherited The Tonight Show when Jay moved to 10:00, has put his foot down. He's not playing NBC's game anymore. He's also letting the press know exactly how he feels. 

Ever the intellectual and always a gentleman, here's the entirety of what O'Brien said in response to the Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien being shoved into a 12:05 am timeslot to accommodate The Jay Leno Show being moved to 11:30:

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.



It doesn't get much classier than that. I certainly wouldn't have been so polite. In fact, if I was Conan, I'd tell NBC to shove it up their collective asses. But Mr. O'Brien is a class act, and I, as you all know, am not.

All Conan wants to do is his show. He wants the legacy of the Tonight Show to stand, as it should. Bending over backwards and kissing Jay freaking Leno's ass at the expense of not only the people who work on The Tonight Show and Late Night With Jimmy Fallon but at the expense of the history of NBC Late Night programming is despicable. I'm just relieved that Conan O'Brien is enough of a professional and a good person to issue a statement like this.

Conan deserves better than the knuckleheads pulling the strings at NBC, and with this statement in the New York Times and now all over the internet, I'm confident that his future on television is brighter than ever.




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GOD, i love that man! i will follow CoCo anywhere...


he is a class act. and i am glad he isn't going along with this nonsense.

and what does jay leno have over these people--who did he sleep with? who is he blackmailing? why can't the man move on with his life and stop disrupting tv for everyone else? what an egomaniac at their worst.

i think everyone should boycott the show if he takes it back over. fck that noise. hell i am tempted to boycott NBC all together if he takes back the show.

go team coco!


I thought it was such a great letter. And I'm with you, I'll never get what Jay's appeal is, especially since it would seem no one I know can tell me. Everyone is team Conan and it's as if NBC just doesn't care.


Gotta say, I have never found him as funny as a lot of my funniest friends do, however this statement shoots him up 100 points in my book. I am totally with CoCo.


I love him. I love that you know that he actually wrote that letter, too.

I always watched Letterman and then switched over to Conan (back when I could stay up that late, ha HA). These days it's all Daily Show and Colbert Report, but this whole disasterbacle thing has reminded me why Conan was always my favorite. I hereby pledge to watch whatever show he ends up doing, because dude is funny AND classy. (Though I will probably TiVo it. Am old.)


I love that letter. I also loved his show last night....it was a big middle finger to NBC...that all the other late night talk shows were on board with...Jimmy Kimmel made me laugh my arse off. Go team Coco!

Fawn Amber

I do not, have never gotten the appeal of Jay Leno. He's an alright guy, but not as funny as Letterman, Conan, or even Jimmy Kimmel for that matter. The biggest question mark to me is that his show is FLOUNDERING in it's current time spot...they think that by bumping it an hour and jacking up everyone else's schedule, they're going to improve the show? IT IS NOT FUNNY. PULL THE PLUG. CALL IT. Gah.

Have never really loved Conan before reading that letter but now will heart him, always.


I think he is one of the funniest out there and as a true-born member of the Pale Force I will support my CoCo (he's MINE) in any way I can.


Thank you for posting this! I love Conan and the line about his hair cemented it for me. I need to start DVRing him more often...


Who would have known THIS is what it would have been like in The Year 2000. *sigh* Poor Conan. I'd ban 30 Rock if I had to, just to see Conan set right. That's some love.


Love him. LOVE HIM. I said it yesterday: Jay Leno needs to retire. The end.

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