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Conan O'Brien -- Sayonara NBC

1/12/2010 5:25 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF

Conan O'Brien Telegraphs Exit from NBCConan O'Brien has made it crystal clear -- he's leaving NBC.

O'Brien just released a candid letter to the "People of Earth," in which he addresses his "personal disappointment" in losing the show. Conan adds, "The Tonight Show at 12:05 simply isn't The Tonight Show."

Regarding the time shift, Conan states, "I cannot participate in what I honestly believe is its destruction."

And since he won't take part in a 12:05 Tonight Show -- Conan's only left with one real option ...get outta Dodge.

Conan also rips NBC, claiming the network promised him the opportunity to build a lasting audience, but "sadly, we were never given that chance."

He also reveals that he has not received an offer to work for another network.

But the key to the whole letter is towards the end, where Conan basically says he's taking his show to another network -- one who "values our work."

NBC had no comment about Conan's letter.

Click HERE to read the letter in its entirety.



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.

Yours,

Conan

438 COMMENTS

No Avatar
16.

jason    

By the way, with Leno now knowing this, the CLASSY thing to do would be to retire like what should have happened in the first place. Do you think Johnny Carson would have done this when Leno inherited the Tonight show (even though Johnny wanted Letterman originally). NO. It is about class, and I hope NBC comes to its senses.

This will tarnish the brand if they go ahead with kicking off Conan and move Leno back to The Tonight Show. It's one of those shows with great history, would be a shame to throw it away for The Chin. Love ya CoCo!

1560 days ago
17.

Tim    

Boy, TMZ, talking about missing the story in your headline...
How about something like:
"Conan to NBC Execs: Call Me When You've Pulled Your Heads Out Of Your Asses"

1560 days ago
18.

md    

Conan's an amazing person. I'll miss you soooo much. But good call in getting out of there before the NBC self destructs. We love you and your hair Conan!!!!

BTdubs....Leno totally blows. I guess I wont be watching anymore late night NBC.

1560 days ago
19.

aquanet    

NBC needs to come up with a better plan like I don't know...firing the head of programming who thought this was a good idea to begin with. Leno needs to either do a weekly variety show or leave. He was given every opportunity to make the tonight show his own with the best support and lead in. Conan's right- he wasn't given that chance.
Personally- not a huge fan of the Conans, but someone must watch him for him to still be on. If Jay was going to do just an earlier version ot the TOnight show- why did he leave to begin with. Ego is why he came back

1560 days ago
20.

dave    

So I guess we can go ahead and assume FOX will make him an offer and he'll accept and we'll have years of Conan vs. Leno via their different networks? LOVE IT!!!

Btw, can we please can Letterman now? Let that bag of bones rest and continue to be a cheating, ugly whore

1560 days ago
21.

denieseh    

I was so excited when Conan became host of The Tonight Show...I am so sad to hear that he is going to be moved to 12:05! It's not fair!

1560 days ago
22.

Sonja    

Conan has really risen above this situation. NBC has been going down the drain for several years now and their treatment of late night hosts has been less than stellar over the years. While I do like Jay, I think Conan is much funnier. I hope NBC gets what they deserve and Conan, his family, staff and crew all get the appreciation they deserve from another network - go to cable Conan get off the networks!

1560 days ago
23.

nataroy    

well said! i am 24 years young and Conan is the next generation of Late night comedy. Jay was funny and still is to my parents. time to move on NBC. you got another 20 years of me watching conan. so much for going to L.A> to see his show.... NBC is stupid

1560 days ago
24.

Calli    

Love you and your hair Conan. Lots of us support you, whatever you decide to do. :*

1560 days ago
25.

karma    

Conan has more class in his little left toe than Leno does his whole, chubby body including the chin. NBC, Zucker, Leno...you all reek--narcissistic, egotistical fools that keeps taking the company further in the ground. You care nothing for the workers except for yourself and that fat paycheck, Jay needs the attention.
Own it Conan and Jimmy, keep whining Jay.

1560 days ago
26.

jayjay    

I LOVE YOU CONAN!!!!

1560 days ago
27.

Mikey    

He's right. Leno is over and 30 minutes of Leno before Conan would be another moronic move. Leaving Conan where he is and say bye to Leno would be the right move, but NBC are such nitwits they will no doubt do the opposite. Just put Leno in a room with a fake camera on him and tell him he has a show. He won't know the difference and neither will the suits at NBC.

1560 days ago
28.

dave    

10 bucks says NBC didn't foresee Conan calling their bluff. And if I'm wrong, I don't actually have 10 bucks to pay you. I'm still waiting for the HOPE AND CHANGE to put some money in my pocket....

1560 days ago
29.

Sarah    

I agree with you, Conan. I think having a half-hour of Jay, followed by The Tonight Show, would be a mistake. I was a regular Jay viewer before the initial change, but I think you are doing a good job and your show should be given a chance to continue to grow.
I like Jay a lot, but NBC has made a commitment to you at 11:35. They should let Jay go (I'm sure he'll find another network), and put dramas back at 10:00.

1560 days ago
30.

benny    

You go Conan, you got the Irish Catholic vote, and Lords knows there are a lot of us.

1560 days ago
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