Conan Slams NBC In Public Statement

Conan O'Brien & Jay Leno Friday May 29th, 2009 Photo:

We knew it was coming and Conan came out swinging.

Conan released this 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

Wow. What do you think of that?-Dr.FB



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  • LexAve456
    Posted at 09:31h, 13 January

    I’m more of a Leno fan but this letter from Conan was excellent. I’m glad he stood up for himself against the bullies that would be NBC. NBC fucked everything up and now they expect everyone to just do an about face but this is proof that they can get over on people. I just hope for the best for everyone involved, the talk show hosts specifically.

  • Emilio
    Posted at 21:21h, 12 January

    Conan ROCKS!!!! The same mindset that has destroyed the popular music industry is now destroying the tonight show. I sincerely hope Conan leaves to a network (cable???) that will value his genius and form a successful partnership and dump the idiotic NBC executives behind this stupid decision. And I also agree with the previous poster, Leno should move on. I like Leno too but he announced his retirement and now he’s screwing it all up for Conan and Jimmy Fallon.

  • PurpleTrekkie
    Posted at 17:47h, 12 January

    Bravo, Conan!

  • EML3
    Posted at 17:41h, 12 January

    …Not to mention Conan was not given a fair chance, as Leno still got the primo guest bookings.

  • EML3
    Posted at 17:37h, 12 January

    Didn’t Leno announce his pending retirement in 2004? Seems like the best way for this to get resolved is for him to honor his decree, retire and let Conan do the best he can with what he was promised, and thus spent the last 6 years planning for. NBC is a sinking ship, Leno should jump while he has the chance and his legacy is tarnished. Then let NBC go back to try to develop decent non-reality programming. That network gave us some great stuff at one point, let current execs burn and rebuild fresh.

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