Tonight Conan O’Brien will take to “The Tonight Show” stage for the last time as its host. O’Brien and NBC reached a settlement Thursday that will put $32 million in the late night talker’s pocket and provide $12 million in severance pay for his staff and crew. You have to give O’Brien credit for looking out for the people that really supported him.
Under the terms of the settlement, O’Brien will be eligible to hit the airwaves on a rival network as soon as September of 2010. Conan O’Brien spent 17 years being groomed for a job that he has essentially been fired from. So the question everyone is asking, what’s next for Conan O’Brien? There has been lots of speculation that Conan O’Brien may move over to Fox. It’s been reported that the network is interested in jumping into the late night biz. A move to Fox would mean it would have to do some major sweet talking to its affiliates which broadcast profitable re-runs in the proposed time slot.
Could O’Brien thrive on one of Turner Broadcasting’s entertainment networks? Atlanta based Turner Broadcasting already has a late night show, “Lopez Tonight” on TBS. However, the company has five other entertainment networks under its umbrella including TNT. Last season TNT expanded its original programming to a third night. The endeavor was successful in helping the network boost viewership by 55% in adults 18-49. TNT announced on Thursday January 21, that it planned an aggressive expansion of its original programming. It is adding 3 new original series to its line-up of dramas. TNT is the network for drama and that’s exactly what the late night shake up has been. TNT hasn’t expressed any interest in an O’Brien late night show. The possibility does sound very interesting.
Conan O’Brien’s last show is tonight. It’s almost a certainty that O’Brien will pop up in a position to compete head-to head with Jay Leno and David Letterman. O’Brien’s return to late night could cause both Letterman and Leno to loose some viewer in the crowed genre. As the saying goes, the battle may have been lost but the war is far from over. O’Brien is $30 million richer with plenty of options awaiting him. We just have to sit back and wait for the next shots to be fired in the late night wars.
You can see Conan O’Brien’s last time as host of “The Tonight Show” tonight on NBC, WXIA-TV in Atlanta. Check you local listings for specific channel information.
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