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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.




No Avatar

JD Santini    

TMZ, you are still not quite "getting" the comment about Conan wanting to work things out with NBC. He is CLEARLY stating that by "working things out" he wants to be free to jump to another network. In NO WAY is Conan implying that, at this point, he'd like to work things out by continuing to do a show on NBC.

1690 days ago

John Hoy    

Conan, you are a class act and a helluva talent to watch! You will be followed to whatever time and station you are on. Create your own legacy you have the talent and staff to do it!


1690 days ago


Way to go Conan. Take the money and let NBC crash. No one is happy but you can walk away with class. Take care of your people though, give them good packages. That is critical.

1690 days ago

The Doc Is In    

Well done Conan!

1690 days ago


Well-said, Conan. Your ratings tonite will be thru the roof, and NBC can suck on that.

1690 days ago


Conan seems like a nice guy but his show is so bad that it is cringe inducing. It is uncomfortable to watch like a car accident. He isn't funny and is so strange looking that it makes it worse. For him to blame the network execs and the primetime lineup solely for his failure is wrong. The audience at 12:30 is different than the one at 11:30 and his so-called comedy doesn't work with that audience. I can't believe that another network will give him a show. Isn't there anyone else they can find that would be better? Seems to me just about anyone.

1690 days ago

The Source    

Hmmm... a couple of things...

1) Sooo he basically made a a very long-winded without actually making a statement?

2) If he does decide to do "The Tonight Show" at 12:05 AM, should it instead be called "The Tomorrow Show"? Or perhaps, "The Today Show"?.. oh wait...

3) I love that he starts it off with... "People of Earth" lol Hysterical!

Take your 80 mil and switch networks, Conan. That or hit the beach.

1690 days ago



1690 days ago


I hated to see Jay Leno leave the Tonight Show but was happy he was doing something else. I started watching Conan and was a little skeptical at first. Over time, however, Conan has grown on me and I find him very funny and sincere. I hate to say it but the Leno show failed. Moving it to a later time slot is like giving him the Tonight Show back after he gave it up. It is unfair to Conan and all the viewers who have had to go through all the changes for Leno's behalf to now see a time honored tradition be pushed back. I believe Conan is correct in the assumption that people await the Tonight Show right after the news. It is my time to relax and wind down for the evening and I know others feel the same. NBC if you listen to the people at all please admit your mistake and then let it go! Leave the Tonight Show as it is. Let Jay Leno do another variety show of some sort...maybe on a weekend instead of nightly. Maybe then his material will be a little more funny and clever.


1690 days ago

excretive producer    

NBC = Nothing But Crap. The peacokk's gonna get blowed up real good!

1690 days ago


Good for Conan, sooo CLASSY! I hope Leno's show fails just like his primetime show did! That's what NBC deserves! I'm really pissed at them!

1690 days ago

a lipstick Lesbian    

He started off the letter with "people of Earth". OMG, that's so creative and funny. People of Earth.....get it? Who would have thought to say "people of Earth". It's a letter to all of us on earth.......get it? And we are all people living on Earth. These Hollywood people are so much funnier than any of us. I just love them.

And then the joke about his hair at the end of the letter. ROFLMAO

1690 days ago


Jay needs to RETIRE!! Conan's show would have done great if all the old loyal Jay fans weren't getting their late night fix at 10pm and then going to bed. Jay has all the money and cars he could ever need - its time to take it like a man and step down. They booted you out of the 11:30 time slot. Are you seriously going to go back to it with your tail between your legs?? It was bad enough that you stayed on tv for 10pm. Have some class!

1690 days ago

Don Cullen    

If I remember correctly, Jay Leno was retiring and that is why Conan was afforded the Tonight Show in the first place. As the time to hand over the reigns came closer, Leno decided he was not ready to retire. Now because the ratings are not what they should be for local affiliates, NBC is trying to accomodate Leno. Leno should be the stand up guy and say this is not right!!

1690 days ago


What a gentleman! Conan deserves the best!

1690 days ago
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