Breaking: Conan O’Brien Releases a Statement, Rejects Proposed 12:05AM Timeslot

This just in: An end to the speculation, with Conan O’Brien releasing the following statement with regards to whether or not he would accept NBC’s proposal to move his show to 12:05 following Jay Leno:

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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  • Kathryn

    Wow. Very well said.

  • A well-written and heartfelt response. NBC is really under hot fire now.

  • Ace

    This makes me extremely sad for Conan. I get up way too early to stay up and watch him anymore, but I always watched him while I was in school. Jay really should be ashamed of himself. But I think Conan made the right decision, b/c who is to say what the network would do to him at the end of the year. Hopefully he can find a new home on Fox or ABC (since they just have Kimmel).

  • Jason

    Go Conan!

  • Kathie Davis

    NBC needs to get a grip. Didn’t Jay Leno leave the Tonight show as in retiring? So then Jay Leno should do the “right” thing as he was supposed to in the beginning. Leave the tonight show on at 11:35 with Conan and let Leno retire. I do think that the earlier time slot is stifling to Conan’s creativity. Sure miss some of the things he got away with at 12:35-its not as funny as before. LOVE ya Conan!!!!

  • Seems fair. I think Conan has come across quite well in all of this while NBC come across as complete idiots who need some serious changes from the top down in terms of management.

  • Linda B.

    I don’t think Jay is to blame at all. It’s the powers that be at NBC. They want to keep Jay, and apparently they want to keep Conan too. I see 2 possible solutions to this. Either Jay will say that this isn’t fair to Conan and leave NBC, or Conan will feel hurt and leave NBC. Either way, no one wins. But, i don’t at all blame Jay and certainly not Conan. Ratings are what matters and neither has performed well in the time slots they started in in the fall.

  • Johnification

    Conan hits every mark here to show a decision based on integrity – he has no offers on the table and is not bitching about “fairness”. What a class act all the way.

    This statement, if ignored, will cement Jay Leno, already the guy who sharked the Tonight Show from Letterman, as the man now responsible for the show’s destruction after over 50 years.

  • Frances

    I love both Conan and Jay. I’m sorry that Jay’s not doing well at the 10 O’Clock slot. However, he knew six years ago that Conan was going to take his spot. He had his time, let Conan have his. Forget Leno after the local news. Just leave it alone and let Conan fulfiill his contract. As much as I love and miss Jay on the Tonight Show, he can always go get his own show elsewhere. Heck he can even buy his own network for that matter. Conan just started out, and he’s damn good at his job. Let him go and do what he was signed on to do. Make us laugh. No matter what happens, it’s a no win situation. As much as I love for Jay, I also love Conan. You had your chance Jay, let Conan have his. Just consider me as a ~Torn Fan!

  • Mark Phillips

    It sounds like the upper management is a bunch of old bumbling fools who are afraid to let a dead horse retire. No offense to Leno, but your crowd is a little older and has lost what edge it may have had due to the aging process. I picture a room full of 70 year olds making this stupid decision. Thanks Conan, for all the great years. I also thank you for the wonderful writing for SNL when it was hilarious-Hartmon, Farley, Carvey. Leave this bad decision and shine elsewhere.

  • bws

    Hopefully, Conan will be taken care of during the non-compete phase of his contract (1 year I’ve heard) and can hop on FOX in early 2011. It makes perfect sense to me.

  • TVFan

    At least Conan assured himself of some fantastic ratings tonight. Can’t wait for tonight.

  • Maranda R

    I think that Conan & The Tonite show should stay right where there at and Jay should go somewhere else … after all Jay’s the one that walk away from The Tonite show ! If Jay come back I’ll stop watch’n His/The tonite show all together

  • Jennifer S

    I was excited when Conan took over the tonite show. If they bring Jay back I’m going back to watching Letterman. The twenty-thirty something generation loves Conan. Keep Conan and Fallon where they are!

  • luke

    Well said Conan.

    I find it interesting that all of the reactions I’ve read either on twitter or on other sites all blame NBC. Even in the comments section, everyone is sidding with Conan. Way to alienate your viewers NBC.

  • Hil

    I am completely with Team Conan on this. I’ve been enjoying Conan since high school and now that I am a working schmuck I’ve been very happy to catch him at the earlier slot. He worked his way into that job the honest way over the years and Leno retired by his own will. We all know Leno doesn’t need the money and you can’t tell me it is for the love of the show since he was more than willing to retire. And NBC wouldn’t be able to force Leno to do anything he didn’t want to do either. Cut your losses, Leno. Try something new with your life. Drive some of those cars you’ve accumulated over the years. Write a best selling book. Do a show in Vegas. Entertain the troops. Do a morning show. Just don’t take Conan’s job!

  • Lauren

    Anyone ever think this is all a big publicity stunt to help NBC earn ratings?jays tanking, & all this drama will help him go out with a bang and help conans ratings at the same time. I hope that’s all it is and that conan stays!

  • Ace

    Lauren — I hope you are right, but I fear that you are giving NBC way too much credit for thinking things through. They don’t really do that.