Conan O'Brien Releases Classy, Funny, Bitter Statement Over Late-Night Controversy

by at . Comments

If it's possible to be classy, funny and bitter all at the same time, Conan O'Brien has pulled it off.

The comedian has released a lengthy statement in which he essentially resigns from NBC, following the network's decision to yank The Tonight Show's customary 11:35 p.m. time slot out from underneath him.

Out of respect for O'Brien, we've published the entire letter below. We hope NBC goes out of business...

“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.

Conan O'Brien Pic

Is it cold in here? Or is it NBC's treatment of Conan O'Brien?

“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."

What a funny, professional guy. Check out the clip below of O'Brien weighing other job possibilities:


Not sure why there's so many Conan haters out there. He's an honestly funny guy. Jay Leno's demeanor and jokes are much more "professional" and "manufactured". Conan's humor seems so much more honest to me. And Jay Leno's moves are so dickish to me. The only thing I have in common with Leno is his love of cars. His humor is all that humorous to me, and he's a dick every time I've met him in real life.


I'm 30 and I hate conan obrien so age has nothing to do with anything. He has never said one funny thing.


The View did a great job on October 19th discussing of Jay-Conan!! Great job, ladies!!


Conan needn't cry crocodile tears to his staff. If he truly cared he would have taken the 1/2 later! Actually, Inside Edition tried to turn public opinion away from Jay!! I love Jay Leno and tolerated Conan when he came on at 10:30 p.m. Central Time..get that Conan!! Some would see you at ll:oo central time!!


Conan is a jerk. I like Leno a lot better. I think Jay is funnier than Conan, and not mean spirited like Conan. I was hoping that Conan would go away, and it looks like I will get my wish. So happy!!!


I agree with Jay sucks and has for years! I would only watch the last part if there was a good band on. I don't find him funny and never had. My teenage son and I watch Conan together for years and we always laugh. I'm 50 and he is 19 now and we spent some good family time together watching Conan.
I just off the phone with my son and you know its upsetting for all of us long time Conan fans.
Jay sucks! and his show failed so time for him to move on and play with some of his millions of dollars and his car collection.
I also feel sorry for the families of all the people that work for Conans show, what happens to them. The leno staff just come to work at a different set after the olympics I guess.
I will never watch Leno ever again not even if he has a great band on. NBC should tell Leno its over and show Conan the respect he has earned...where Conan goes, I will follow.


It makes no sense to air the tonight show at a time when its already tomorrow morning.


golly how nice would it be if everyone we all could do that. Decide to quit and try something new, but then that something new flops. Oh wahwahwah I want my old job back. And stick it to who ever gets in the way. Personally I think Leno sank his own ship. If NBC does give him his job back, he will have lost the respect of viewers and they still won't watch him. So my prediction is Leno will flopped yet once again.


i love conan!!! if he leaves nbc, i will def not watch jay leno ever again!!!


"since 2004 I have spent literally hundreds of hours thinking of ways to extend the franchise long into the future". Whew! That must have been quite a strain! Ha ha. Too bad all that thinking didn't result in show that was equal to its competition. Conan blames everyone but himself for his failure. He succeeded at being the 12:30 guy and obviously should have stopped there. I never thought he'd be able to handle the Tonight Show and am not surprised he's history.


Conan O'Brien Biography

Conan O'Brien was hilarious at 12:30 a.m. But he hasn't fared well in the Tonight Show time slot and rumors began to circulate in early... More »
Full Name
Conan O'Brien