Conan O’Brien released a statement today condemning NBC for not living up to their end of the bargain. The statement explains O’Brien’s frustration with broken promises and what O’Brien views as, “its(The Tonight Show) 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.”
O’Brien is falling more victim to Leno’s failure at 10pm, than to his own show’s failure. O’Brien made a point of calling Leno’s show a “comedy program” and blamed the Leno shows weak ratings as a poor lead in for The Tonight Show.
O’Brien also went after NBC in his monologue last night.”
A sample of the jokes O’Brien wrote to lash out at NBC:
“NBC said today they expect to lose $200,000,000 on the Winter Olympics this year.” A smiles creases O’Brien’s face as he continues,”Folks is it just me? Or is that story just hilarious!”
O’Brien also mused, “There was a 6.5 magnitude earthquake in California yesterday. It was so powerful that it knocked the Jay Leno Show all the way back to 11:35.”
“Everybody wants to know now what my plans are?” O’Brien continues, “All I can say is, that we plan on putting on a great show night after night, while stealing as many office supplies as humanly possible.”
Conan O’Brien’s official statement as released to the New York Times:
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.
O’Brien isn’t the first NBC host to leave under a cloud of controversy and animosity. David Letterman left NBC after they slighted him by choosing Jay Leno to host The Tonight Show instead of Letterman. Johnny Carson had made it clear that he wished Letterman would have replaced him on The Tonight Show and even appeared on Letterman’s show in it’s inaugural season, view here.
According to TMZ NBC is in the process of giving the Tonight Show back to Jay Leno in anticipation of O’Brien’s eminent departure. If this does happen it could end up costing NBC millions of dollars to clean up the mess.TMZ also is stating on it’s website that Leno and O’Brien have not spoken since the announcement and that Fox is holding out their offer to O”Brien for an 11pm time slot.
New York Times