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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
46.

Amy    

He handled this with true class. It's a mean thing to say, but I can't wait for Jay Leno to fail....miserably and enormously. He's a smug, whiny baby, and he is not doing the right thing here.
Conan never had a chance. NBC effed him in the ay. I hope the whole thing comes crashing down around them.

1655 days ago
47.

Mikey    

WTF! Leno left the show and now he wants back? What a DB. If Leno had any class he'd bail right now. Conan should kept the Tonight Show and move it back to NY where Carson originally had it.

1655 days ago
48.

pj    

What a shame. Conan is exactly right..they never gave him a chance. I remember when Jay took over and it took him quite a while to build an audience. I miss Jay and don't know what the right solution would have been but this is really unfair to someone as talented as Conan, especially after he moved his staff and family from NYC to LA. I hope he finds somewhere else to go where fans can still enjoy his comedy.

1655 days ago
49.

a lipstick Lesbian    

NBC should move he show from 11:35pm to 11:30pm. Most shows start either on the hour or the half hour.

1655 days ago
50.

Tiger's Help Sucks Too    

Ratings say it all. Conan sucks. His so-called "humor" may seem funny to runny-nosed, spotty-faced adolescents, but to anyone with 2+ brain cells he's just whiny and annoying.

1655 days ago
51.

Reed    

Wow, I can't believe some of the ignorant comments posted here. Comments like 'Leno sucks' or 'people are not interested in him any longer'. Well, since people obviously don't read entertainment news and have their heads buried in the sand, Jay Leno has been number one in late night for many years, and still was at the time the show was handed over to Conan. The only reason NBC ended his run as host was because they had an agreement with Conan to take over on a certain date and they didn't want to lose him either. When Conan took over, Tonight Show ratings took a plunge and Letterman's ratings went up. Too bad Jay & Conan are the victims of NBC's bad planning. The network should have left things as they were.

1655 days ago
52.

Tina    

Conan.. you are a class act.

1655 days ago
53.

GabrielS    

Oh No!
No Mo "CoCo"?
Is NBC Loco?

(I sent this earlire but it didn't go through and I like to see my name in print ;) )

1655 days ago
54.

GJA    

Wow. He just made me a Conan Obrien fan. Class act!

1655 days ago
55.

sunny    

I love you Conan!! I've been a fan since I was 9 years old!!! LOVE YOU AND I THINK YOUR VERY TALENTED! I HOPE THINGS WORK OUT FOR YOU. OH AND I'M 35 NOW...SO THAT'S A LOT OF YEARS :)

1655 days ago
56.

PolarBear    

WHO, WHO, WHO is making decisions at NBC? This is totally nuts! NUTS! Conan and Jay obviously look like they are feeling totally adrift in all this, they are being held at arms length and waiting to be told something. That is immeasurable disrespect and a waste of their talent. I can only imagine that both Conan and Jay have very good business minds at this point, but they are being held out in the alley. This is ABSOLUTE INSANITY. NBC hereby proclaims to the world that they are wildly incompetent. NBC = Nutcase Brood of Cukkaheads.

1655 days ago
57.

Vic    

By the way..no offense, but i guess I'm glad right now that I didn't get the job I applied for on your show. But see, I'm rooting for ya anyway!

1655 days ago
58.

Master    

Jay is the least funny of all the late night shows..not to mention he looks like a human bobble head.. why are they bending backwards to bring him back.. what a joke, i will follow conan where ever he goes..

1655 days ago
59.

Troy    

I feel bad for Conan for the poor job NBC has done handling this whole mess. The sad truth is that if Conan were to jump networks he would not be able to compete against Leno or Letterman at the same time slot. Most viewers only stick around for the monologues and change the channel for the interviews. A 30 minute Leno show might actually give a bump for whoever fills the time slot after him.

1655 days ago
60.

Lilarose    

Bottom line: NBC never talked with Jay Leno about "retiring" him on a certain date in 2009. THAT is where the problems began.

Jay Leno should have the "Tonight Show" back and it should be just like it used to be with the same sets, musicians, writers, whatever.

And it should be in the same time slot it was always in and for an hour show. Half an hour show for Jay? That is about 14 minutes airtime around the ads. That won't work, NBC.

Conan can go back to whatever he was doing when he took over the Tonight Show.

1655 days ago
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