Via elephant journal
on Jan 12, 2010
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Conan O’Brien‘s letter to NBC.

It’s Late Night with Conan O’Briiiien! Ah, the sound of my 20s, late nights after waiting tables, sitting in a tired old chair watching Conan in my Mission Hill apartment.

Now on the hallowed Tonight Show, once the playground of legendary Johnny Carson, and only the fifth gent to hold the job in the franchise’s history, NBC is ruffling Conan’s (peacock?) feathers, trying to switch the losing Jay Leno Show at 10pm back to a later, funnier slot.

Problem: Jay’s new slot would come after the news, traditionally where the Tonight Show begins, pushing Conan back to 1205, and Jimmy Fallon of the Late Show back even further. Conan thought about it, and said,

I ain’t moving.

In what may be destined to become a real-life Jerry MaGuire classic funnymanifesto, Conan’s letter of refusal begins

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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9 Responses to “Funnymanifesto.”

  1. CoCo fan says:

    Uh, Jimmy Fallon hosts the show after Conan, not Kimmel.

  2. Uh, whoops, better stop blogging after drinks and dinner. Thanks, I'll fix!

  3. Chuck MIchaels says:

    I honestly think NBC should just let Conan go elsewhwere. He has no appealing humor or content like All of his predecessors. I am glad in his statement that he apologized for his hair; he has gotten a lot of mileage from that and in fact is his only joke. Many of us offered 28 million would wash the president's limo, sweep up after the show and be very happy to do that and be part of something as great as a tv network. Instead of crying over a half hour "slight" , we would allow its broadcast any time the network deemed appropiate. NBC- tell him not to let the door hit his ass on the way out!

  4. Wow. Well, it's a half hour when half of the US goes to bed—and Tonight Show has always picked up after the news, it's TV tradition!

  5. Did you read his letter? The first thing he made a point of saying is "don't feel sorry for me, we're all fortunate."

  6. […] have had one year to make up for eight.” ~ Obama, sounding a lot like Conan, […]

  7. I completely agree with this article. you have just forced me to bookmark this post