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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
61.

GIGI    

YOU KNOW WHAT NBC YOU MAJORLY BLEW IT 7 MONTHS AGO AND HERE YOU ARE TRYING TO FIX WHAT WASNT BROKEN TO BEGIN WITH. NOW THREE COMICS ARE GO TO BE ROYALLY SCREW AGAIN AND NOT TO MENTION THE VIEWERS,WHERE YOU ARE STICKING TO THEM AGAIN? WHERE YOU CANT REALLY AT YOU. YOU WILL STILL PAY THE PRICE OF MORE VIEWERS TURNING THE TV OFF???
NOW NIGHTTIME VIEWERS , YOU ARE GETTING WHAT DAY TIME SHOWS AND VIWERS . HAVE BEEN TREATED LIKE , LIKE YOU DO NOT MATTER CONTINUE WHAT U R DOING BY TURNING TO CABLE STATIONS

1715 days ago
62.

Tim    

Nice try Conan. Your rating were so pathetic that you did not deserve a longer chance. Maybe if you were closer to Leno's ratings, your argument would hold water but you were not even close.
Blame yourself.

1715 days ago
63.

Mayri    

Conan's letter has class and dignity and I tip my hat for the man. I have to admit, I've always been a big fan of Jay Leno and I love his show but this is simply unfair. If Jay really wanted to retired, he should be the one getting out of the game not O'Brien! Both of them are great men, but I'm gonna have to go on Team O'Brien on this one.

1715 days ago
64.

Joe    

This is why I love conan, such a class act. NBC & Leno has really screwed the pooch with this whole disaster. I hope conan gets a big pay day and ends up at a different network with a better show. NBC is officially dead to me, the ONLY show I will be watching on NBC is Chuck, that is the one they have not screwed up. Yet.

1715 days ago
65.

kat    

The only thing that sucks more than Leno is his band! from Kevens phony laughs to the loud-a** music after every lame joke. Go away already!! Kimmle for the win!

1715 days ago
66.

Pongo    

I think it's easy to see why NBC is the lowest rated network. Just another bone-headed decision that makes them look bad, makes Leno look like a stubborn infant and effectively ruins the one solid franchise they had going for them. Don't have strong feelings one way or another about Conan, but I think he's being royally shafted here so I'm done watching the Tonight Show (won't it be the early morning show if it airs at 12:05 anyway?)

1715 days ago
67.

John    

I feel bad for Conan but I don't think he is as funny as Jay. I also think he started this mess to begin with. He didn't have to be so pushing on pushing Jay out of the show.

Jay should have been able to go on till he retried and then people would have accepted it like that did when Leno took over Carson. To make NBC write in his contract he gets tonight show on X date was something he should have never asked for.

Conan could have had them put in his contract that when Jay retires or if he has a issue going on due to health then he gets it. No one would have cared there either.

I thought Jay at 10 was going to flop but I didn't think Conan was going to do that bad in the ratings. But I guess people have spoken and want Jay back.

1715 days ago
68.

jamelle    

Conan Sucks!!!

1715 days ago
69.

Beastage    

Send NBC to hell Conan! NBC have the worst executives in the business, they sabotage their own programs with stupid agendas and ideas.

Everyone told them that having a bad show before the tonight show will hurt the tonight show... but nooo those imbeciles went ahead anyway.

Quit NBC Conan and never look back!

1715 days ago
70.

bob    

Another thing people overlook is that NBC uprooted Conan and his family and moved them across the country, only to not even give him a chance? NBC is ignorant and Conan will do well on any network in any time slot.

1715 days ago
71.

your face    

Jay Leno is LAME>>>>>>Conan should be able to keep his show as should Jimmy Fallon>>>> jay leno should get the kicked to the curb>>>>

1715 days ago
72.

Jake    

Heres a brilliant idea. George Lopez is doing incredibly well with Lopez Tonight on TBS. If TBS really wants to establish a Late Night footprint they should give Conan a show at 10 before Lopez Tonight.

1715 days ago
73.

Michele    

NBC = NOTHING BUT CLUELESS. What they're doing to Conan is simply abominable. Jay Leno comes across as an arrogant bully. The reason his show didn't do well was that he just wasn't funny, creative or innovative. Conan's response to all of this is class personified. I truly believe that there's going to be a backlash against NBC for this awful decision. I hope 'Triumph' takes a big doggie bite out of Jay's rear end.

1715 days ago
74.

c    

I'm not gay but Id F%$k Conan, out of respect. Who's with me?

1715 days ago
75.

james    

Listen, Conan doesn't need the money, plus any job he takes NBC would have to cover the difference between the new contract and the old, so dude should go back to doing what he's great at: comedy writing, and become the head writer and a cameo player on Saturday Night Live. SNL has suffered since losing Tina Fey as head writer, Conan could take SNL to it's peak.

1715 days ago
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