Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I Want to Give Conan a Big Smooch

Score one for Conan O'Brien. He released a classy, funny, heartfelt written statement today saying that he loves The Tonight Show and has adored it since he was a kid, but if it's moved to 12:05 a.m., as NBC execs have proposed in order to make room for Jay Leno at 11:35 (after Leno floundered at 10 p.m.), he will not be its host.

Addressed to "People of Earth," Conan's statement read in part:

"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.

. . . 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.

. . . 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. "

At least someone cares about one's colleagues, promises made and maintaining the quality of a storied TV franchise. Conan signed off cleverly by saying, "I am truly sorry about my hair; it's always been that way."

So much funnier than Leno. Seriously. (For the record: I'm not related to Conan even though we're both from Massachusetts and both share the same last name.)

Read the whole statement here.

*Team Conan*

Image credit: Drinkwater/NBC via AP/NY Daily News.

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