Conan O'Brien Rips NBC in Monologue
Conan O'Brien didn't hold anything back in his first 'Tonight Show' since officially stating that he would not be willing to jump to 12:05 a.m. to make room for Jay Leno thanks to the massive chaos in NBC's nighttime lineup. "Welcome to NBC, where our new slogan is 'No longer just screwing up prime-time,'" O'Brien said in his opening monologue. More scathing quotes and clips after the jump!
With a rousing ovation, O'Brien began his monologue by saying "I may not have that much time ... Hello, my name is Conan O'Brien and I may soon be available for children's parties."
He went on to say: "I've been giving the situation a lot of thought. When I was a little boy, I remember watching 'The Tonight Show' with Johnny Carson and thinking 'One day, I'm going to host that show for seven months.'"
Perhaps the biggest NBC barb was when Conan said of the current situation: "NBC said they were planning on having the late-night situation figured out before the Olympics start. And let me tell you something, when NBC says something, you can take that to the bank."
Howie Mandel dropped by during the monologue to run down Conan's future "options" in 'Deal or No Deal' style, which included the untaken options of "Move to Animal Planet, eat bugs on 'Man vs. Wild'" and "Gay neighbor on untitled Ed Asner project." Conan's choice? "2 Tickets to see Jay Leno perform stand-up at the Luxor Casino in Las Vegas." Well played, Conan.
The Conan-Jay drama began when NBC canceled Leno's 'The Jay Leno Show,' which aired at 10 p.m. But when Leno's 10 p.m. show flopped in the ratings and caused panic among local NBC affiliates who were losing lead-in viewers to their 11 p.m newscasts, NBC hoped to move Leno back to 11:30 and have Conan follow-up in the post-Midnight slot. Unfortunately for them, O'Brien wanted nothing to do with the switch and skewered the network in a statement.
"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," O'Brien said in a bold statement on Thursday. He went on to call 'The Tonight Show' "the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting," saying that him taking the new time would "seriously damage" its integrity.
"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," Conan said, taking a shot at the weak pre-'Tonight' ratings that ultimately hurt his own show.
Various media outlets are reporting that O'Brien's January 12 broadcast will be his last, and that NBC is on the prowl for guests hosts to take over 'Tonight,' likely because they fear Conan will continue to batter them in his monologue and jokes.
As for where Conan will go, nobody knows. Fox reportedly is courting him, but there's been no official confirmation of such negotiations.
► VIDEO: Letterman David Letterman Mocks NBC Debacle, 'Big Jaw' Leno
► Earlier: Conan O'Brien Says He Won't Budge for Jay Leno
► Aol Television's Gary Susman: Hey NBC, Just Let Jay Leno Go
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