Conan O’Brien has found his new network home, and it’s the last place anyone expected: TBS. Debuting in November, Conan’s new hour-long show will air at 11:pm Monday through Thursday, and will be followed by George Lopez’ talk/comedy hour.
Since NBC asked O’Brien to step down from The Tonight Show so Jay Leno could return, the smart money has been on Fox becoming the comic’s new home. But complications arose during negotiations with Fox, which allowed TBS to swoop in at the last minute with an offer Conan found too good to refuse: create and own your show. TBS has reportedly given Conan a blank check (metaphorically) to do basically anything he wants, on the show.
While some may wonder why O’Brien would go with a cable network that’s not known for its original shows, instead of a higher-profile gig like Fox, there is some strong logic to his decision. Fox would have put more pressure on O’Brien to deliver big ratings, while TBS can be more than satisfied with the numbers his established audience will bring. Essentially, Conan will be a very big fish in a very small pond — while working one less night a week (Friday nights are devoted to movies at TBS). And TBS will gain some much-needed cred among younger, hipper viewers.
George Lopez, whose show will be bumped from its current 11:pm time slot to midnight, was apparently instrumental in convincing O’Brien to sign on with TBS, calling O’Brien personally to ask that he consider joining the network’s line-up.
Conan offered put his signature spin on the situation by saying, “In three months I’ve gone from network television to Twitter to performing live in theaters, and now I’m headed to basic cable. My plan is working perfectly.”
There’s no word yet on whether O’Brien will bring along his entire team to the new show, or his frequent collaborator Andy Richter.