Conan O'Brien expresses 'enormous personal disappointment' over NBC's 'Tonight Show' decision

After days of silence about the late-night shake-up at NBC, Conan O’Brien has finally gone public, issuing the statement printed below. NBC, which spoke about the situation at the TCA press tour over the weekend, is not commenting at this time.

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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  • Myposian

    No! I’m so bummed. I’m never going to watch Jay Leno again, and I’m going to encourage everyone I know to do the same. (Not that it’ll make much difference.) But Jay really should just let it go. Because of him, Conan never even had a chance.

    • Anne

      So true! Jay needs to move on.

      Also, EW, you didn’t print the entire statement! I read it on the NY Times website. You left off his signature.

      • Salvador Dali

        really? the signature? get over it.

        besides, the article is so classy and so funny it doesnt even matter.

      • Chevy Chase

        The bottom line is that NBC believed that Conan would pull in the big ratings – which he never did. The Tonight Show’s ratings are down 50% from when Leno was hosting. Its a simple business decision. Leno is the bigger draw.

      • sutherngurl

        actually the signature was great, it just capped the whole thing off. Conan O’Brian is an amazing host and writer. I will be too sad to see him go, I hope they work something out

      • Ginny

        I like Jay – always have. But this move is very wrong for everyone involved. Conan’s ratings suffered due to Leno’s poor lead in to the news which translates to a poor lead in to Tonight Show. With a good 10p show, Conan would do well and he should be given at least as much time as Jay – 2 years – to make it work. Jay could either take a break for the remaining year and a half (doing other projects or just taking a break) and then address the whole situation then.

        Another option is to give Jay a 12:30 show to have him wait out his 17 months and then if Conan is not producing – he can slide back into that slot.

        It’s not fair to Conan to cut him off and I for one, would not watch or respect Jay if it goes down that way.

        If NBC’s purpose is to push Conan out, well, that’s exactly what they are doing. I would hope that Fox would pick him up for an 11:30 show.

        Just like the Letterman/Leno stuff years ago …

      • Jamie

        If Jay is the bigger draw, why are they moving his show? Many of they people who enjoyed him on the Tonight Show do not enjoy his new show.

        As far as ratings Letterman trounced Jay when he first started as well. Conan’s whole point is that he should be given the same latitude they gave Jay when he first started.

      • brenda

        hey chevychase, a little lesson in how network television works. leno was the bigger draw because he had a better prime-time lead in, when NBC used to be a decent network with good dramas on at 10pm. conan’s problems (and NBC didn’t view them as HIS problems, incidentally) were because leno’s show was pulling horrendous numbers (notice they canceled jay, NOT conan). NBC knew that conan needed time to grow an audience because he was largely unknown to the unwashed masses who appreciated the tonight show with jay leno. conan is too smart for network TV. the only reason he did well at 12:30am is because censorship rules change after midnight and he was allowed to do “his” comedy. he needs to go to cable to do the kind of show conan fans would really appreciate.

      • Ron Mexico

        Hey, Chevy Chase (IF that’s your real name), Conan was given 7 months. Ratings always fall when hosts transition. When Leno first took over for Johnny Carson, his ratings were much worse than Conan’s ratings for comparable segments. You claim that ‘Leno is the bigger draw,’ but his show is in the toilet, and though Leno may have a larger audience now, he is a fading ‘modern’ style comic, whose methods appeal to the babyboomers and few else. The ‘post-modern’ approach that Conan uses is the future.

        NBC is making a big mistake.

      • Shel

        To Ginny: I agree with your entire post, and think your suggestions might be the best, though I really doubt Jay would agree to follow Conan after it being the reverse for so many years. I also don’t think Jay’s audience would necessarily follow him to that late time.

    • Stephanie Tanner

      Good for Conan, he should have been given a chance. Jay Leno comes off as a classless loser. His time is over, he should move on. He was nothing more than a bland, mediocore placeholder for Johnny Carson who could only tell O.J. or Clinton jokes. Anyone else notice how Letterman, Conan, Jimmy Fallon all talk highly of one another, yet all make fun of Jay? Because Jay is a jerk, selfish, plain and simple. Heck Johnny Carson wanted Letterman in the first place, instead we got stuck with the big-chin dope. What I will never understand is why NBC is so afraid of losing Leno, the world will not end. He was routinely beaten by Letterman for his first couple of years until E.R. gave him some help. Conan is getting the short end of the stick. I’m with you Conan.

      • kellybelly

        @Stephanie — how mean of you! To say such mean statements about Jay’s character. How is he a jerk? Selfish? I always got impression from Dave and Conan that they LIKE Jay.
        This is NOT Jay’s fault.
        This is solely NBC’s fault. They are BOTH getting screwed.
        When Jay was ready to leave the Tonight Show- his ratings were so high, he had offers from other studies,that NBC panicked. They didn’t want to loose him, so they came up with the lame prime-time idea. Jay can’t do anything about this situation.
        AND Leno’s “Tonight Show” repeatedly beat Letterman in the ratings consistently since the Hugh Grant prostitute apology.

      • Jen

        Agreed! I never understood the appeal of Leno … his jokes are dumb and mean-spirited.

      • Sarah

        Good for you Conan! It’s a about respect. It is very clear that NBC would rather shift around it’s entire late night schedule to accommodate one man and please the affiliates. It is a slap in the face to Conan, the crew of ‘The Tonight Show’ and to Jimmy Fallon and the crew of ‘The Late Show’. And Jay Leno should be ashamed for never really giving Conan the chance he deserved, a chance that Johnny Carson gave him years ago.

      • phil

        I personally don’t think Jay Leno is very funny, but how do you know he’s a jerk?

      • Addison

        I love Conan and I think his show should stay in it’s time slot. He rocks. But while maybe Jay should retire, These problems are NBC’s fault, not Jay’s. He’s been as classy as possible about getting the boot from his show and has still remained loyal to NBC when they wanted him back. It time for NBC to face the music. They’re gonna have to lose a host. Either Jay or Conan. And it’s not fair to Jay, who didn’t ask for or cause any of these conflicts.

      • Christina

        NBC never forced Jay to come back; quite the opposite really, Leno did not want to leave. A classy and gracious guy would bow out quietly in the aftermath of a failed show after having had his time in the sun. I thought it bizarre and wholly unfair to Conan in the first place when I heard “The Jay Leno Show” would be on at 10pm every night. If Leno has any decency in him he’ll walk away.

      • AshleyBrooke

        I actually disagree with you about Jay being classy. He’s acting like he didn’t do anything wrong, about not being able to actually retire and instead ruined the 10pm slot on NBC. He wanted his stupid show and, the stupid NBC people gave it to him. Then he’s saying he wanted to be back at 11:30 (because he sucks). Now they’re doing something completely stupid just to accomodate him?! He needs to go. I refuse to watch anything he’s apart of.

      • Junkthump

        Kellybelly…you think Jay is a nice guy huh? Why is he trashing on Conan’s time slot. He has the power to do what he wants at NBC with that HUGE guaranteed contract NBC stupidly threw at him. Was he not suppose to retire? He was …and then undermined Conan’s efforts to get off the ground with The Tonight Show by saying he wanted to do a variety show??? WHAT?? Jay has NO variety and his skits are painful to watch. Leno is a one trick pony, always has been even in his stand up days (check the reels). Conan needs more time and they gave Jay plenty of that when he took over Johnny’s watch, In fact 5 times longer than they are giving Conan. Personally, My age group, who is the future of late viewing (35-45), get Conan more than they ever did Jay. Jay has simple throw era humor that is not going to change the NBC viewership…Conan will. We will never know this though…too bad. I hope to see Conan on cable where he can really cut loose.

      • Audrey

        If Jay Leno was as bad as you state, he wouldn’t have lasted 15 years on the Tonight show, I have been to the Tonight show dozens of times. I can’t see Conan O Brian lasting long as the host in the Tonight show.

      • Addison

        Aww man, Ashley… Remember, NBC forced Jay to leave, and NBC asked him back for the 10 o’clock show. Until then, he was perfectly content with leaving, possibly for another network, which was his right. But before he even got a real offer, NBC asked him to do the ten o’clock show. I think the network has jerked Jay around even more than Conan. And because he’s the public figure, Jay has to catch a lot of the fallout for this from viewers like us. His career is gonna be over now no matter what happens. That’s a raw deal.

      • Shel

        To Stephanie, Ashley, Junk and anyone else who has decided Jay somehow rules NBC and has caused all this: Grow up and learn facts before mouthing off. You are entitled to not like Jay, that is your right. (I happen to be a big fan, but also think the 10:00 show has been a failure.) Jay did not force NBC to make him “retire” (which he never had any intention of doing I would imagine), Jay did not force NBC to panic and give him another contract so another network couldn’t hire him as competition for The Tonight Show, Jay did not force NBC to give him the 10:00 slot. NBC made these programming decisions and should be held responsible for them. Unless I have missed something, it is also NBC who came up with the idea of moving Jay back to 11:30 and bumping everyone else 30 minutes. While I’m sure Jay would like to continue working, since he DOES have a contract (which – again – he didn’t force NBC to give him), I have seen NOTHING anywhere that indicates the time shuffle was Jay’s idea. NBC is trying to have its cake & eat it too….keep both hosts. They are screwing up the “fix” as much as they screwed everything else leading up to this.

      • Nick

        I’ll agree with you that Jay’s show is not funny, and the way NBC has handled all this is atrocious. But classless loser? Jay Leno was the first person to call Letterman after his bypass surgery. Jay Leno put on free comedy shows in his native Detroit for laid-off factory workers. Jay’s donated a lot of coin and time to numerous charities. Doesn’t quite sound like a classless loser to me.

      • Stupid Pet Tricks

        When Carson left the Tonight Show, he permanently left the public eye.
        That is class.

    • Josh

      Conan should do his first post-Tonight Show interview with…wait for it…David Letterman!! How much would NBC and Jay Leno hate that!?

      • John

        Yes! That would be perfect. Then Conan takes over for Dave just as he did at NBC.

      • Shel

        So Dave is just supposed to move over for Conan the way NBC forced Jay to move out? Interesting. I truly wonder what Dave would think of that?

      • John

        Shel, I like Dave. But honestly, how long is he going to be around? For the sake of his own health he should retire.

      • Barbara

        Unbelievable. Anyone who says Jay has had his time in the sun and should bow out, I agree with you. Does anyone remember the first couple weeks of Conan’s show? I remember thinking that it was so horrible, it would be off the air in a month!!! Look at THOSE reels!!! But he found his footing and look what happened! There is something to be said for a man who doesn’t just do what he is told to do and stands his ground. I think that the idea of taking the chair of the tonight show means more to Conan than however many millions they paid him for his contact, that he gets no matter what. The bottom line is that neither Jay or Conan have to work another day in their life. They are rich beyond rich. They do what they do because they love it. Sometimes, we make the wrong decisions and have to live with them. Jay should be a man and find his own place somewhere else. Find a backbone. If he doesn’t want to disrupt the night time lineup that has worked since forever, then speak up. Otherwise, he’s just as bad as whoever came up with the idea to disrupt everything. I agree….Conan got screwed in ratings by the lineup … and I was never a really big Conan fan — I, personally am devout Letterman, but I like seeing the backbone. I like it a lot.

    • Bobby’s Robot

      Why can’t NBC just give Jay a show ONE night a week and leave Conan alone??

      • jess

        YES! I think Jay’s new show would be much better as a once a week program! It would be something to look forward to. Having a day time talk show in prime time is just not working for me! I love Conan and Jimmy — I feel bad, but I would have to pick them over Jay.

      • John

        The executives at NBC should read these posts. This idea is so obvious!

      • norris

        Conan is not funny!! He is too animated and hard to look at!!

    • Chevy Chase

      The bottom line is that NBC thought that Conan would bring in better ratings – which Conan failed to do. Tonight Show was down 50% from when Jay hosted – and the ratings were not improving.

      • JrzShoreLady

        The reason The Tonight Show ratings were so bad was the horrible 10:00 lead-in (The Jay Leno show). When Leno hosted the Tonight Show, NBC had great dramas on before the news, so people stuck around.

        I haven’t watched NBC since all the 10:00 shows were moved or ended.

      • Ron Mexico

        Hey, Chevy Chase (IF that’s your real name), since you repeated your previous comment, I will repeat mine:
        Conan was given 7 months. Ratings always fall when hosts transition. When Leno first took over for Johnny Carson, his ratings were much worse than Conan’s ratings for comparable segments. You claim that ‘Leno is the bigger draw,’ but his show is in the toilet, and though Leno may have a larger audience now, he is a fading ‘modern’ style comic, whose methods appeal to the babyboomers and few else. The ‘post-modern’ approach that Conan uses is the future.
        NBC is making a big mistake.

      • John

        “Good evening. I’m Chevy Chase and you’re not”. Watch “Community” Thursdays’ on NBC.

      • Barbara

        If they think the ratings are bad now…well, just wait til they get a load of the ratings if Jay comes back!

    • Jordan Van Os

      Conan is being treated like crap even though he was an equal part in NBCs late night success in the past years. Jay’s show didn’t do well immediately when it started, and to be fair, it probably had a better lead in than a failing prime time talk program.

      I’m with Conan. NBC can suck a dong.

    • Mary Q. Contrary

      I’m so glad Conan grabbed a set. He’s a stand-up guy, pun intended (ba da pa!), and I now respect him even more than I did before, when I just thought of him as a very funny comedian. I hope to see him move to another network and start his own legacy. I could say a million things about the poor judgment calls NBC has been guilty of making in the last decade, but because this is probably their most epically stupid decision yet, there’s really no need. They are desperately clinging to 30 minutes of Jay Leno, and, in the process, ruining what last shred of a good name they had left.

      • deidra

        Agreed! I was hoping Conan wouldn’t accept NBC’s absurd offer. Great move, Conan…you deserve better!!

      • Dillon

        Totally agreed!! Good for Conan. I’m sure we’ll see him again. As for Jay, hoping he fades away…his time is definitely up!

      • JD

        Absolutely! No one else has said it better.

    • kellybelly

      This has nothing to do with Jay. He didn’t want to retire. NBC made him step aside for Conan. (NBC didn’t want to lose Conan to another network and figured that Jay might want to retire in 09)

      • Lipper

        Actually, the way I understood it was NBC was worried about losing Leno to another network. Jay signed off on the passover to Conan, but it seems like he was being a bit selfish. If anything he should’ve left and set off on developing his own show, like a cable comedy special… jmo

      • Em

        It has EVERYTHING to do with Jay. He agreed to leave, then decided he wanted to stay. NBC came up with a way for him to stay, and Leno couldn’t make it work. Leno needs to go, and stop asking the entire network and staff to accommodate Jay’s ego and whims.

      • Dawn

        I agree with Em. Jay should step aside. He didn’t exactly try to be all that creative with his new show. It was basically a rehash of the tonight show at an earlier hour. Jay should never have been the Tonight Show host anyway. Should have gone to Letterman.

    • rerun

      Conan handled it how you would expect him to. His comment about not stepping on Jimmy is a veiled shot at jay, but rightfully so. Jay should allow Conan to put his mark on The Tonight Show and move on to other things. Just very classless from Jay IMO

      • Shel

        I’m not quite sure why everyone thinks Jay has a choice in this – he is also under contract, as far as I understand it. I am not sure at all that he has the option of just moving on….. unless of course, all of you people who think you should be able to tell someone when they HAVE to retire also think they get to tell someone that he should quit and breach a contract.

      • Barbara

        As much as I love Letterman, and I DO, the sad truth is that Letterman just isn’t Tonight Show material. You know, Johnny Carson always “made everyone look good.” Not so much w/ Letterman! He is great … and he doesn’t need the Tonight Show. It would cramp his style.

    • Renee

      I heart Conan…he is truly a class act. Jay just needs to move on, his time has come and gone.

      • Shel

        Perhaps you need to let NBC know Jay should just move on, since they are the ones who kept him. And last I heard, no one is actually supposed to pass up millions of dollars just not to hurt another host’s feelings (a host, let’s not forget, who told NBC “give me The Tonight Show or else.”)

    • AlysabethInAustin

      This would never happen in the year 2000!! Boycott NBC. I’ll watch my Office on dvd next year …I am so Team Conan and I know dozens who feel the same.Bow out, Jay…the backlash will be fierce.The ripples in the pond are already palpable.

      • Kait

        You realize that by buying The Office on dvd, you are still supporting the network financially, right? Not really a boycott if you’re paying to watch their series.

    • J

      This is not Leno’s fault. It’s all NBC. It was NBC that offered Leno his new show so he would stay at NBC and possibly not go to a rival network and compete directly against Conan’s show. Now, since ratings are down for both shows, they are trying to just reverse their decisions and move Leno back to his old time slot. I really think at this point they would rather keep Leno and see Conan leave. It’s not fair to Conan or Jay, really. I predict that Leno will decide to just leave NBC, allowing Conan to stay at his show, with no timeslot change.

      • InternJack

        Are ratings down for Jay Leno’s show? I thought that he was still drawing in the 5 million viewers range. That’s what he was drawing at the 11:30 time. That was 2 million more than it’s competition: Letterman and Nightline. It was also lot more than Kimmel who drew around 1.4 to 1.6 viewers at 12 midnight.

        See Jay Leno’s 5 million at 10 pm isn’t much but it’s 2million more than the competition at 11:30.

        The first thing a person should do when they find themselves in a hole?
        Stop digging.

        Hugs to Conan for a well written response. It can’t be easy.

      • Dee

        I keep seeing people write that NBC was afraid of Leno going to another network. I could not foresee CBS dumping Letterman in his favor. And Jimmy Kimmel starts half an hour later so it’s not a true competitor. (Although, I do recall there was talk of canceling Nightline in the event Leno wanted to move to ABC? Is that accurate?) He doesn’t strike me as a particularly good fit for Fox. It just doesn’t make any sense to me.
        Leno has never done it for me. I’m definitely Team Conan here.

    • Jilly

      Think you’re right, Myposian. This statment from Conan is so cool. NBC are fools not to embrace the 21st century which is what Conan is doing. Jay, you were great, but now, you need to go play with your cars, or travel, or something, and let others have a chance, just like Johnny Carson gave you a chance. My 2 cents.

    • wizard62

      I think everyone should stop saying “NBC screwed Conan, NBC screwed Jay, etc.” and start naming names, putting the blame where it belongs..with NBC Entertainment President Jeff Zucker. NBC is not a person, it’s a company. Zucker is the decision maker at that company and it was his bad management, lack of loyalty to his stars (Jay AND Conan), and complete idiocy of decision making that lead NBC to this whole mess. If I performed this badly in my job, I would be fired immediately. Zucker took a once great network and in the course of 6 years (since Friends ended) completely destroyed what used to be “must see TV” for years. If NBC wants to move somebody back into their old job, it should be Warren Littlefield, NBC’s former entertainment president, who built the company into the number one rated network throughout the 90’s with blockbuster hits such as Seinfeld, Fraiser, E.R., Friends and Will & Grace. What Zucker has done to this once great network is nothing short of a disgrace. NBC is now the laughing stock of the entertainment industry and it all happened on Zuckers destructive watch. I hope Jay and Conan BOTH leave NBC!

    • Erin

      All I know is that Conan’s family and the family of the entire crew uprooted themselves and moved to L.A. to do the show. The least they could do is offer more time. I’ve watched both Jay and Conan since I was a teenager, but I’ll never watch Jay again.

    • Celia

      I didn’t watch Leno in the first place. Conan, Jimmy Kimmel, and Craig Ferguson are my go to guys for late night entertainment. Screw Jay Leno and NBC, what a bunch of good-for-nothing Lazy, Liars!!

  • Rock Golf

    It looks like NBC is gonna have to be a bit creative here. Perhaps alternate O’Brien/Leno on 90-minute Tonight Shows.

  • ASH

    Run, Conan, Run! (You should be, too, Jay).

    • junierizzle

      BRAVO! CONAN.
      Ill go wherever you go.
      YOu had me at hello.

    • kellybelly

      I agree. Jay should run too (if he can….depending on contract stuff).

    • Madea

      Why don’t they move Leno to 12:30? And keep Conan at 11:35? Why does everyone else have to come 2nd and 3rd to Leno? Then if Leno doesn’t like it, he can leave. I’m sick of him.

      • Racine

        Because he was first

      • Carrie

        Actually the TONIGHT SHOW was there before Leno, and he’s not the host of it anymore, so technically Conan’s show, the TONIGHT SHOW, should be ahead of Jay.

      • Mary Q. Contrary

        So what if he was first? He, along with NBC, signed on for a failed experiment, and it’s not right that Conan pay for the mistake.

      • Em

        What about Jimmy F? He didn’t do anything to deserve being booted – his show is great! Leno needs to hit the road. Hit the road, Jay – and don’t you come back no more no more no more no more…

      • Dawn

        NBC obviously wanted to keep Conan more than Jay when 5 years ago they promised Conan the Tonight Show to keep him.

      • Celia

        If they move Leno, then Jimmy gets moved too. Leno should just leave and go to another network. He can go to ABC, they only have ONE late night host.

      • Ryan

        Because the 12:30 crowd wouldn’t watch Jay Leno. That isn’t his demographic. The people who watch his show are all in bed at that time. It would be a HUGE failure (even moreso than now.)

    • Emma

      This is so sad. I love CONAN!

      • onel nonac

        Yeah Racine, emphasis on “WAS”.

  • dee

    Good for Conan. He’s only been given a short period of time to establish himself. Its not his fault that Leno’s show sucks.

    • Quirky

      Exactly! NBC let Leno flounder for years as the host of the Tonight Show after Johnny Carson left until his ratings finally beat Letterman.

    • DC

      DITTO!! Jay had his chance and now it’s time to pass the torch. Move on. I am not watching Leno ever again, no matter what else he does.

      • Liva

        Can you imagine your boss doing that to you?

        “You’re doing great work, but we’ve given your job to someone else. Also, we’re not keen on you working for any of our competitors.”

        It sounds like an episode of Mad Men. I wouldn’t leave quietly either.

      • tv marie

        Like your comparison, but MAD MEN is a good show!!!

      • Shel

        Liva – Love your analogy and totally agree. What people seem not to remember in all this is that CONAN got The Tonight Show by threatening to leave NBC. Whoever heard of planning that many years in advance for a host switch? But, to my mind, Jay probably not only thought he would be ready to go but also that he would be a good team player so that NBC wouldn’t lose Conan. No one thought of the possibility that Jay would not only still be doing a great job at The Tonight Show, with great ratings, but that he would also still be a viable prospect to other networks. I have no idea why anyone would think Jay somehow “owed it” to NBC and Conan to not only leave a show he loved & was doing great at, but agree to not do anything else either. The number of posts deriding him for not retiring some place and shutting up is just astounding to me. NBC FIRED a good employee, then realized they had to keep him (as they had to keep Conan) in order that someone else not get him. And for the record, I agree with almost everything Conan wrote, except for the veiled implication that it is somehow Jay’s fault. He does himself no favors letting NBC divide him from Jay – they both need to stay focused on the real villians here.

    • wino

      Conan for the WIN :) but seriously, this is NBC’s blunder, not Jay’s. He did his job, he pulled in the same amount of people during the Tonite Show (5 mil +). However, those numbers dont work at 10pm and thats something NBC execs failed to consider. Its a big mess all around….Jay should step aside and just call it a day. In the end, he wanted to leave the late nite circuit…he now has his chance.

      • InternJack

        LOL NBC went from being the leader in late night ratings (11:30) by 2 million with Leno to ratings of 3 million with Conan. Don’t get me wrong I like Conan but that’s a decrease of appx 2 million viewers per night with Conan.

        2 million. :(

        In the 12:30 slot Conan had the lead over Kimmel and Ferguson.

        It’s only since Fallon took over the 12:30 spot that Ferguson has begun to take over that time period so the person who should be worried is Fallon.

        And Ferguson if Conan had gone back to the 12:30 spot.

        Tell the truth though, doesn’t this sound like a push to get folks to boycott Leno? Seriously, There’s the mean old Jay taking away Conan’s spot. Conan is being the “stand up” guy and saying he’s above the fray and won’t be mean to Jimmy Fallon like Leno is. So let’s all boycott Jay.

        Then the ratings for Leno go down and the sympathy ratings for Conan go up. NBC says, “Sorry Jay but Conan for some reason has increased his ratings by LOL 2 million so thanks to the outpouring from the Internet we’ve seen the error of our ways.

        No?
        Maybe I’ve been watching to much meta humor on 30 Rock.

        Wonder if they’ll mention this on upcoming shows. Wouldn’t ya just love to see Liz Lemmon and Jack work this out?

      • Route66

        You bring up a good point. NBC, in their greed (under G.E. honchos), were hoping that a talk show, which costs so much less than comedy/drama shows, would work out well. Instead of admitting their experiment failed, they are now trying to lay the blame on Conan & Co. Leno’s numbers, as you bring out, are not horrible for a LATE NIGHT show, but awful for a 10 PM show ~ The Tonight Show with Conan. Leno should bow out gracefully and move on to other things ~ production comes to mind. Let’s hope NBC suits get a brain…

      • Steve Lee

        I agree… Leno should look to do new things. If he never wanted to leave then a few years ago, he should have said let Conan take over in 2010 or 2012… it didn’t have to be 2009.

        But Leno could do very well doing special projects for NBC – host specials or why not a Sunday night show? Or some kind of reality show about stand up comedy? Sundays are usually kinda boring on TV… it would give Leno more time to tour more – I just saw him live in Vancouver last week and he was good. I always preferred his stand up to his interviewing.

      • Shel

        We have no idea if Jay tried to tell NBC he would like to stay longer. We have no idea if NBC would have considered it if he did. We have no idea if NBC went to Conan and said, hey – the current system is still working great, how about you wait until 2010 or 2011 – and that Conan refused. There is no way to know what may have happened behind the scenes. However, this is something I do know: NBC should have at least considered postponing the host changeover when they saw how great the ratings still were with Jay. If they didn’t, then just add it to a long list of mistakes they made. NBC’s fault, not Jay’s.

  • Ashley

    I love Conan and I think NBC is really making a mistake with all this.

    • Ugly Jenny

      NBC made the wrong move and Conan made the right one. I’m glad that he didn’t compromise the integrity of his show just to appease a network the bends over backwards to keep Jay Leno around. It’s not fair for Conan or Jimmy. I hope Conan gets another deal and will relish in his future success!

  • Kal

    I love Conan O’Brien. He is one, classy guy. You suck, NBC.

    • LJ

      He is definitely one guy, can’t argue with that.

    • Kal

      So sorry…I originally had another adjective in between one and classy and then deleted it without deleting the comma as well. It’s a good thing the grammar police are on patrol today!

    • DC

      Again, DITTO, very classy and heart-felt message to those that are as shocked as he is by this. I’ll follow him to whatever network or show he goes with. NBC truly sucks!

  • amy

    Pretty classy out of Conan. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of his comedy, but he seems like a top-notch guy who has been treated horribly by NBC. Like he said, he moved his entire family & staff out to LA, and this is how NBC treats him. And it’s also not fair to Jimmy who I think has done a pretty good job establishing himself on Late Night.
    Hope NBC comes up with a better compromise. I’d hate to see an institution like The Tonight Show messed around like this.

  • Rhomi

    long live Conan! Jay should retire gracefully…like he said he was going to do when he left the Tonight Show.

  • val

    What a class act. I hope he rides NBC for every single penny they owe him, and I hope Jay Leno can look past his massive ego to see what a tool he’s being along with NBC.

    • Q

      …and past his chin!

    • Quirky

      Actually I read on another news site that Conan does have the option to quit and NBC would still have to pay him for his remaining 4 and a half years.

      • Gretchen

        That would be great!

    • kellybelly

      Hey, this isn’t Jay’s fault!! What is he doing? He has a contract with NBC….

      • JT

        NBC executives should be banned from this board.

      • jenny jones

        Jay has a contract for the 10pm slot! GO AWAY Jay, you look like an old fool who can’t stand to have the younger comics have any success. Conan is a better writer, as proven by his statement. What was Jay’s statement?? “Give me my old job back because I suck at this new job.” Loser. Don’t get me started . . .

      • Em

        It absolutely IS Jay’s fault. NBC accommodated his retirement schedule by planning for it in 2009. Then Jay decided he didn’t want to retire after all, and started whining and pouting about it. Then he got his way, got a nightly show, and look: it sucks. So now he wants to be accommodated AGAIN – screw all the other people involved. Stay classy, Jay.

      • Shel

        This was JAY’S retirement schedule???????????? lol lol lol It must be fun, living in self-delusion land.

    • kp

      I support whatever Conan does 100%!

  • Meg

    NBC handled this terribly. I hope and pray that Conan goes to a new network. It’s a tragedy that he is being treated with such disrespect. VIVA CONAN!

    • Jenna

      Love Conan! NBC isn’t worthy of you anymore

    • Hannah

      Viva Conando!

    • Lisa

      Love my CoCo and am so sad this has happened to him. I hope he comes out of this mess OK.

  • Captain Canuck

    Wow, Jay Leno has now screwed 2 funnier people out of the Tonight Show gig.

  • Ahmed

    What a mess! I appreciate Conan’s honesty and candor about the situation… I wish NBC had left the original late night schedule intact… Amazing how billion dollar companies routinely make awful decisions that are apparent even to the laymen.

  • Rey

    Best of luck Conan! NBC is the real problem here

  • wendy12

    Jay should just retire like he said he wanted to back then instead of changing his mind and causing all this trouble. I will NOT be watching any Jay Jay hw who won’t go away. Oh wait I never did anyways. Love you Dave and Conan :)

    • Sparky

      Jay did nt want to retire. NBC told him that in order to hang on to Conan that he was going to have to step aside in 2009 for Conan to take over. They did nt count on Jay been popular right up until the time he had to step down. The only person at fault here is Zucker for his ass back wards management of this whole situation. I know that NBC will have to shell out a bundle of money $40mill if I’m not mistaken if Conan leaves. What if Jay leaves, will they have to pay him off too????

    • corfy

      FTR, Jay didn’t want to retire. NBC asked him to step down and make way for Conan. They were trying to keep Conan from going on to another network and figured Leno would want to retire by then.

      • Chevy Chase

        Bottom line is that NBC thought that Conan would bring in better ratings – which Conan failed to do. Tonight Show was down 50% from when Jay hosted – and the ratings were not improving.

      • ZeeZee

        This is true. NBC made this original move so they wouldn’t lose Conan so they forced Jay out. I am glad, for one, that Conan is leaving. The Tonight Show worked much better with out him. Jay is funnier, wittier, and smarter than Conan. Don’t worry about him though, I am sure he will end up on another NBC network with his own show. Glad to see you are coming back Jay!

      • Laura

        Also, if NBC didn’t let Conan take over the Tonight Show, they had to pay him 40 million dollars. So they pushed Jay out to save money. But Jay should get lost. As Hannah said a few posts above: VIVA CONANDO! (I reiterate, Hannah said that first, not me.)

      • Varris

        Yes, this is the way I understood it too. But NBC made the deal to have Leno step down and Jay took the deal to have him step down. Yet when the time came, Leno didn’t want to go and NBC didn’t want to lose him (for some reason). And that’s why they’re all in this predicament.

        I loved Conan on Late Night, but frankly, I haven’t felt that his comedy was quite right for The Tonight Show.
        Perhaps he should leave NBC for another network. Maybe even go back to NYC for a new show…

      • To Chevy Chase

        Conan’s numbers were down because his lead-in was down. That’s why the affliates insisted Leno’s show had to go. The afflilates were losing their audience to the other networks because Leno’s show was such a huge drop in their lead-in. Fewer people watching local NBC news, means fewer people to watch the Tonight Show. And by fewer, I mean 5-7 million a night. That really hurt the afflilates and it really hurt the Tonight Show. Letterman doesn’t have a talk show pulling in 4-6 million a night an hour before he goes on. CBS wouldn’t be that stupid. So don’t blame Conan for the numbers. He didn’t get a level playing field.

      • Shel

        To Varris: NBC didn’t want to lose Leno “for some reason”? Gee, can’t tell that you don’t like him. The “some reason” is because they realized too late they were forcing out the KING of late night (ratings-wise, no matter your personal feelings or mine) and that some other network was waiting to gobble him up.

    • tv marie

      That’s true, this isn’t Jay’s fault at all, it’s NBC’s. A deal is a deal, and they made the deal with Conan to take over in June 2009, so they should have stuck to it. But, Jay didn’t want to retire, and there’s the rub. Jay is king at that network, and whatever deal he wanted, he got. Just look at the new deal: He basically is getting the Tonight Show slot but it’s being called The Jay Leno Show, and he’s doing the 1/2 hour…isn’t that what he wanted? I do think that he should swallow his pride and realize his new show isn’t funny, though, and step aside. Lord knows he can afford it.

      • medea

        “Lord knows he can afford it.” Lord knows they all can. It’s just greed. Stupid, idiotic greed.

    • Scott

      Jay never wanted to retire! Why does everyone keep saying he wanted to retire? He was forced out 5 years ago. And, clearly he did have an audience because he was consistantly beating the Letterman show in the ratings. I feel bad for Conan, and hope he sticks it to NBC, but this is NOT Leno’s fault.

      • Andre

        Actually Jay kicked all this off 6 years ago by kicking around a date he would like to retire.

      • Shel

        Andre, you are wrong.

  • AA

    Classy statement from Conan.

    • Mangagirl

      Agreed.

    • Laura M.

      Conan = Class and intelligence. Things NBC obviously doesn’t have.

      • bethanymae

        I absolutely agree.

      • wawesh77

        Conan is a good writer but a terrible presenter whats with the hair and the grim facial expressions and flat jokes

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