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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.




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I love you CoCo and will see you wherever you go! You are classy, and this is exactly the right way to handle this game. If NBC has the guts, they'll stand down and let you do your job, but in time, we'll see how much power Jay has over the so-called bigwigs.

Take care of yourself, your family, and your staff - all who traveled from coast to coast to be with you on this new adventure. Whatever happens, it will be all for the best, because that's exactly what YOU deserve. Head's up! You done good.

1745 days ago


Class act!

1745 days ago


Sorry to oppose so many people but I stopped watching the show when Conan took over, I like Jay so much better. And I would love to see Jay come back. Conan's audience was the 12:30 to 01:30 group, my son loves him but doesn't watch him at 11:30. Conan needs to understand that people of "age" do watch tv at 11:30 and don't find him funny he is good for the younger group and they stay up much later. GOOD-Bye and good luck I for one will be happy to see Jay back.

1745 days ago


I'd rather watch reruns of 2 1/2 men than Leno. Get him off and keep Conan; he is NBC's future

1745 days ago

Jill Kennedy    

It is stunning how badly this was handled by senior management at NBC. Jeff Zucker and Jeff Gaspin are the latest idiots in the crisis. Jeff Gaspin's press conference on Sunday was a master class on how not to handle a situation like this...

And Jeff Zucker should have sucked it up a week ago and made things final. Fire Conan and put Jay at 11:35. I would say the other way is the way karma would dictate - but the ratings are king these days and Jay would go off to ABC or Fox and crush the competition.

1745 days ago

Allen Kesselschmidt    

Here is the ultimate solution. Keep Conan on the Tonight show then let Jay produce and star in a 10 'clock serial drama called.. NBC DOA.

1745 days ago


Conan is doing the right thing as I said before Leno killed NBC and conan is the escape goat. Jay is not a young guy how many more years do u think you can get out of Leno on the tonight show hmmm. Leno is a terrible person didn't do like carson and pass the torch , he just stood there bitched whined and cried until he got his show back. I used to like Leno now and now I believe he is a cancer to NBC and is slowly killing the network. ohh yeah gotta give some credit to those smart CEO's that keep making these great decisions for Nbc as well.

1745 days ago


Conan sucks and that why Leno will return!!!!

1745 days ago


Never watched either show (Conan or Leno's) for more than five or ten minutes, perhaps once a month at best. Some of the skits were funny, but I wasn't a loyal viewer by any means. If Conan could have taken a more lucrative deal, then perhaps he should have done so. That was his choice. Either way, I doubt very much either of these guys have financial worries. I imagine it's bothersome psychologically for them, but these guys still have money in the bank and I suspect they can pretty much do whatever they want (with the exception of their respective shows at the desired time slots), so I don't think we need to cry for them.

1745 days ago


Jay Leno must be a real big fan of Brett Favre. He is pulling the exact same crap. He retired. Then he unretired. Now he wants his old show back cause no one wants to watch him at 10 p.m. He made all the decent NBC shows move so he could flop. Why move his show to 11:35? His show isn't that good let it go!!! Conan is the future of the Tonight show. Why not go and see if you can reanimate Johnny Carson to take over for Jay's sucking show while your at it?

1745 days ago


Way to stand your ground Conan! This family would rather see you before that jackass Leno any day. We're rooting for you!

1745 days ago


Really? His hair has always been that way? I never knew.

1745 days ago


I think they are both funny and class acts that appeal to different types of people. I do think Jay is far superior interviewer and sometimes it feels like Conan and Andy are tripping over each other a bit. These issues probably would have been corrected. I am sure we have all been demoted or had lateral moves in our careers. Conans no different and will be better for it.

1745 days ago


Good riddence CoCo, don't let the Tonight Show door hit you in the a## on the way out

1745 days ago


Love you Conan. I will follow him wherever he goes.
I will not watch NBC if they remove Conan !!!!!!!!!

1745 days ago
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