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2010 Tonight Show conflict

2010 Tonight Show conflict

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In early 2010, American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 television network
Television network
A television network is a telecommunications network for distribution of television program content, whereby a central operation provides programming to many television stations or pay TV providers. Until the mid-1980s, television programming in most countries of the world was dominated by a small...

 NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

 and two of its late-night talk show
Late-night talk show
In American television, the late-night talk show is a specific kind of comedy-oriented talk and variety show that airs late at night. Characteristics of the genre include topical monologues in which the host makes fun of the day's news, comedy sketches, celebrity interviews, and musical performances...

 hosts, Conan O'Brien
Conan O'Brien
Conan Christopher O'Brien is an American television host, comedian, writer, producer and performer. Since November 2010 he has hosted Conan, a late-night talk show that airs on the American cable television station TBS....

 and Jay Leno
Jay Leno
James Douglas Muir "Jay" Leno is an American stand-up comedian and television host.From 1992 to 2009, Leno was the host of NBC's The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Beginning in September 2009, Leno started a primetime talk show, titled The Jay Leno Show, which aired weeknights at 10:00 p.m. ,...

, engaged in a media and public relations conflict over the host and airtime of The Tonight Show
The Tonight Show
The Tonight Show is an American late-night talk show that has aired on NBC since 1954. It is the longest currently running regularly scheduled entertainment program in the United States, and the third longest-running show on NBC, after Meet the Press and Today.The Tonight Show has been hosted by...

, the network's long-running late night program. On January 7, 2010, NBC announced that effective March 1, 2010, Leno's program The Jay Leno Show
The Jay Leno Show
The Jay Leno Show is an American comedy show created by and starring Jay Leno, that aired from September 14, 2009 to February 9, 2010 on NBC following the May 29, 2009 conclusion of Leno's first tenure as host of The Tonight Show...

would be moved from the 10:00 pm weeknight time slot to 11:35 pm and O'Brien's program The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien
The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien
The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien is an American late-night talk show that featured Conan O'Brien as host from June 1, 2009 to January 22, 2010 as part of NBC's long-running Tonight Show franchise...

would be moved from 11:35 pm to 12:05 am. The scheduling change was attributed to poor ratings
Nielsen Ratings
Nielsen ratings are the audience measurement systems developed by Nielsen Media Research, in an effort to determine the audience size and composition of television programming in the United States...

 of both shows and resultant pressure from NBC affiliates and NBC Universal
NBC Universal
NBCUniversal Media, LLC is a media and entertainment company engaged in the production and marketing of entertainment, news, and information products and services to a global customer base...

 chief Jeff Zucker
Jeff Zucker
Jeffrey "Jeff" Zucker is an American television executive and former President and CEO of NBCUniversal.-Personal life:Zucker was born to Jewish-American parents in Homestead, Florida, near Miami. His father was a cardiologist, and his mother, Arlene, was a school teacher...

. Though not a breach of either host's contract, the change resulted in a public outcry and public demonstrations largely in support of O'Brien.

Shortly after NBC made the schedule change proposal, O'Brien indicated that he would quit his show and leave the network if NBC were to implement it, citing the "destruction" of the venerable franchise which had aired at or around 11:30 pm for over 60 years. The controversy surrounding the scheduling move, described by media outlets as "embarrassing" for the network and a "public relations
Public relations
Public relations is the actions of a corporation, store, government, individual, etc., in promoting goodwill between itself and the public, the community, employees, customers, etc....

 disaster", led to public support for O'Brien from fellow late-night talk-show hosts and other celebrities along with protests on social networking sites such as Twitter
Twitter
Twitter is an online social networking and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read text-based posts of up to 140 characters, informally known as "tweets".Twitter was created in March 2006 by Jack Dorsey and launched that July...

 and Facebook
Facebook
Facebook is a social networking service and website launched in February 2004, operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc. , Facebook has more than 800 million active users. Users must register before using the site, after which they may create a personal profile, add other users as...

.

O'Brien's departure was officially confirmed by NBC on January 21, 2010, after nearly two weeks of negotiations. His final show aired Friday, January 22, and he along with his staff received a total of $45 million to walk away from the network ($33 million for O'Brien, $12 million for the staff, with the exception of Andy Richter
Andy Richter
Paul Andrew "Andy" Richter is an American actor, writer, comedian, and late night talk show announcer. He is best known for his role as the sidekick of Conan O'Brien on each of the host's programs: Late Night and The Tonight Show on NBC, and Conan on TBS...

 and Max Weinberg
Max Weinberg
Max Weinberg is an American drummer and television personality, most widely known as the longtime drummer for Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band and as the bandleader for Conan O'Brien on Late Night with Conan O'Brien and The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien.Weinberg grew up in suburban New Jersey...

).

Background



On September 27, 2004, the 50th anniversary of The Tonight Show
The Tonight Show
The Tonight Show is an American late-night talk show that has aired on NBC since 1954. It is the longest currently running regularly scheduled entertainment program in the United States, and the third longest-running show on NBC, after Meet the Press and Today.The Tonight Show has been hosted by...

s debut, NBC announced that Jay Leno would be succeeded by Conan O'Brien
Conan O'Brien
Conan Christopher O'Brien is an American television host, comedian, writer, producer and performer. Since November 2010 he has hosted Conan, a late-night talk show that airs on the American cable television station TBS....

 in 2009. Shortly before this, it was widely publicized that Conan had been courted by several networks including ABC and Fox, to move to an earlier time slot, so the offer was hastily made by NBC, as they did not want to lose him and his popularity to another network. Leno stated that he did not want to see a repeat of the hard feelings and controversy that occurred when he was chosen to host the show instead of David Letterman
David Letterman
David Michael Letterman is an American television host and comedian. He hosts the late night television talk show, Late Show with David Letterman, broadcast on CBS. Letterman has been a fixture on late night television since the 1982 debut of Late Night with David Letterman on NBC...

 following Johnny Carson
Johnny Carson
John William "Johnny" Carson was an American television host and comedian, known as host of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson for 30 years . Carson received six Emmy Awards including the Governor Award and a 1985 Peabody Award; he was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1987...

's retirement.

It was announced on July 21, 2008 that Jay Leno would host his final episode of The Tonight Show on Friday, May 29, 2009. O'Brien took over hosting duties commencing the following Monday, on June 1, 2009. NBC, afraid of losing Leno to another network, gave him a new nightly prime time series, The Jay Leno Show
The Jay Leno Show
The Jay Leno Show is an American comedy show created by and starring Jay Leno, that aired from September 14, 2009 to February 9, 2010 on NBC following the May 29, 2009 conclusion of Leno's first tenure as host of The Tonight Show...

, which debuted in September 2009.

Ratings


The first episode of
The Jay Leno Show earned fast national estimates of 17.7 million viewers, an 11 Nielsen rating
Nielsen Ratings
Nielsen ratings are the audience measurement systems developed by Nielsen Media Research, in an effort to determine the audience size and composition of television programming in the United States...

 (5.1 among persons 18–49) and an 18 share. By its second week, and with the show airing directly opposite season premieres, Leno's audience fell to six million viewers.
The Jay Leno Show averaged a 1.98 in the adults 18–49 ratings and 6.594 million viewers. The ratings continued to fall, but roughly came to a stasis at Leno's previous audience of about 5 million. While these ratings were detrimental compared to the competition, this was still within NBC's projections of how they expected the show to do, and the show was significantly cheaper to produce than five scripted primetime shows. However, by October 2009 the Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles Times is a daily newspaper published in Los Angeles, California, since 1881. It was the second-largest metropolitan newspaper in circulation in the United States in 2008 and the fourth most widely distributed newspaper in the country....

reported that the ratings for many high-rated local news broadcasts over various NBC affiliates had fallen. Local affiliates blamed The Jay Leno Show for its poor lead-in.

Meanwhile,
The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien
The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien
The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien is an American late-night talk show that featured Conan O'Brien as host from June 1, 2009 to January 22, 2010 as part of NBC's long-running Tonight Show franchise...

saw strong ratings at its premiere, but a month later it was regularly losing overall viewership to The Late Show
Late Show with David Letterman
Late Show with David Letterman is a U.S. late-night talk show hosted by David Letterman on CBS. The show debuted on August 30, 1993, and is produced by Letterman's production company, Worldwide Pants Incorporated. The show's music director and band-leader of the house band, the CBS Orchestra, is...

. The ratings slide of overall viewers was such that from August 13–19, 2009, Letterman's repeats were beating new O'Brien episodes, albeit with the thinnest of margins. The repeats got a 2.1/6 household rating and 2.95 million total viewers, vs. The Tonight Show’s 2.0/5 rating and 2.94 million viewers; both were beaten that week by Nightline's 3.25 million. By early September, before The Jay Leno Show premiered, The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien
The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien
The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien is an American late-night talk show that featured Conan O'Brien as host from June 1, 2009 to January 22, 2010 as part of NBC's long-running Tonight Show franchise...

had lost the overall viewer ratings for eight consecutive weeks. However in the key 18–49 demographic O'Brien had maintained a solid lead.

By November 2009, two months after the premiere of
The Jay Leno Show
The Jay Leno Show
The Jay Leno Show is an American comedy show created by and starring Jay Leno, that aired from September 14, 2009 to February 9, 2010 on NBC following the May 29, 2009 conclusion of Leno's first tenure as host of The Tonight Show...

, ratings for The Tonight Show were down "roughly two million viewers a night year-to-year" from when Leno hosted the program. However, it was widely theorized that Conan's rating shift was a result of a lead-in from The Jay Leno Show, whose low ratings for a prime-time show resulted in a poor lead-in for the local news, causing a domino effect
Domino effect
The domino effect is a chain reaction that occurs when a small change causes a similar change nearby, which then will cause another similar change, and so on in linear sequence. The term is best known as a mechanical effect, and is used as an analogy to a falling row of dominoes...

 on ratings for
The Tonight Show and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon is an American late-night talk show hosted by Jimmy Fallon on NBC. The show premiered on March 2, 2009, as the third incarnation of the Late Night franchise originated by David Letterman....

, which itself had lower ratings than The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson
The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson
The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson is a Peabody Award-winning American late-night talk show hosted by Scottish American comedian Craig Ferguson. Ferguson, the third regular host of the Late Late Show franchise, follows Late Show with David Letterman in the CBS late-night lineup...

on average every week since September 2009, although in reality O'Brien's Tonight ratings were already far down three months before Leno's prime time show debuted in September. Furthermore, the ratings turn before Leno's return were theorized to be a result of the various scandals surrounding Letterman at the time, causing a heightened interest in that show, beginning with a comment Letterman made about Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin
Sarah Louise Palin is an American politician, commentator and author. As the Republican Party nominee for Vice President in the 2008 presidential election, she was the first Alaskan on the national ticket of a major party and first Republican woman nominated for the vice-presidency.She was...

's daughter, as well as the sex scandal involving Letterman and female staff members.

According to NBC, if O'Brien continued hosting, it would have been the first year that The Tonight Show would have actually lost money, which Leno later contended was damaging to the franchise. This assertion was scorned by skeptical critics and O'Brien himself, as it was calculated Conan's Tonight Show would have made significantly more money in advertising than Leno's show did, due to his more favorable youth demographic numbers. Also Leno's larger staff, higher production costs and higher salary would have by all accounts made Leno's Tonight Show more costly.

During the Oprah interview, Leno later attributed the time shift being as a result of both his and O'Brien's poor ratings and its effect on the affiliates. Leno attributed this affiliate dissatisfaction as his reason for not feeling guilty for taking the show from O'Brien, though critics pointed out that affiliates never had a problem with Conan's ratings, only having a problem with Jay's disastrous lead-in.

Proposed changes and reaction


Due to poor ratings for The Jay Leno Show and consequent complaints from NBC affiliates, NBC decided that Leno's show should be moved to 11:35 and shortened from an hour to 30 minutes. O'Brien's Tonight contract allowed this move, since it stipulated that NBC could air the show as late as 12:05 a.m. (Eastern and Pacific) without penalty, a loophole included primarily to accommodate sports preemptions and specials such as the network's New Year coverage
New Year's Eve with Carson Daly
NBC's New Year's Eve with Carson Daly is a yearly show on NBC. Its first broadcast aired on December 31, 2003 live from Times Square in New York City. It airs live on the East Coast....

. All NBC late night programming had already been scheduled to be preempted for two weeks between February 15 and February 26 to allow the broadcasting of the 2010 Winter Olympics
2010 Winter Olympics
The 2010 Winter Olympics, officially the XXI Olympic Winter Games or the 21st Winter Olympics, were a major international multi-sport event held from February 12–28, 2010, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, with some events held in the suburbs of Richmond, West Vancouver and the University...

. The decision to make the move following Olympic coverage was finalized by the NBC on January 10.

The permanent shift to 12:05 left O'Brien with no legal recourse other than to follow Leno indefinitely or leave the network. TMZ
TMZ.com
TMZ.com is a celebrity news website that debuted on November 8, 2005. It was a collaboration between America Online and Telepictures Productions, a division of Warner Bros., until Time Warner divested AOL in 2009. However, it is still affiliated with AOL News and has the AOL News logo affixed in...

 reported that O'Brien was given no advance notice of the change, and that NBC had offered him two choices: the hour-long 12:05 am time slot as the continuing host of The Tonight Show, or the option to leave the network. If O'Brien chose to leave, Leno would likely regain the Tonight Show title as well as the full 11:35 pm to 12:35 am time slot. If O'Brien chose to stay, the addition of The Jay Leno Show would not only bump his own show, but also result in moving Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon is an American late-night talk show hosted by Jimmy Fallon on NBC. The show premiered on March 2, 2009, as the third incarnation of the Late Night franchise originated by David Letterman....

back by thirty minutes, and likely knock Last Call with Carson Daly
Last Call with Carson Daly
Last Call with Carson Daly is an American late night talk show that is broadcast on NBC. The show is hosted by Carson Daly, the half-hour show featuring celebrity interviews, documentary-style coverage of a topic, and musical performances. Last Call airs weeknights at 1:35 a.m. Eastern / 12:35 a.m....

from the late night lineup altogether.

The day after the change was announced, the
New York Times spoke with an anonymous Fox
Fox Broadcasting Company
Fox Broadcasting Company, commonly referred to as Fox Network or simply Fox , is an American commercial broadcasting television network owned by Fox Entertainment Group, part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. Launched on October 9, 1986, Fox was the highest-rated broadcast network in the...

 executive, who said that the company felt O'Brien "would be a great fit for Fox." ABC
American Broadcasting Company
The American Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network. Created in 1943 from the former NBC Blue radio network, ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Company and is part of Disney-ABC Television Group. Its first broadcast on television was in 1948...

 later stated they felt no need to add O'Brien to their late night schedule, which already contains
Nightline and Jimmy Kimmel Live!. Comedy Central
Comedy Central
Comedy Central is an American cable television and satellite television channel that carries comedy programming, both original and syndicated....

, HBO, and TBS
TBS (TV channel)
TBS , stylized in the logo as tbs, is an American cable television channel owned by Time Warner that shows a variety of programming, with a focus on comedy. TBS was originally known as WTCG, a UHF terrestrial television station that broadcast from Atlanta, Georgia, during the late 1970s...

 had also expressed interest in O'Brien.

O'Brien rejects the 12:05 am slot




On January 12, O'Brien issued a press release that stated he would not continue on with the NBC program if it moved to a 12:05 am time slot, saying,

I 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.


Until the final episode, O'Brien had yet to seriously comment on-air about these events or their possible consequences, limiting any mention of them to jokes made during his monologues. Since the controversy developed, O'Brien made it clear that he would not be on-air for long, and poked fun of his show's brief life, such as showing "classic" clips from his seven month tenure as host.

Counteraction from NBC


On January 15, All Headline News
All Headline News
All Headline News is a United States based news agency or wire service. Launched in 2003 it has grown to become a major worldwide online news wire service, providing news and other content, to websites, digital signage, and other publishers who pay a fee for the service.The company's daily news...

 reported that NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

 intended to keep Conan off the air completely for three and a half years unless he agreed to NBC's terms. Insiders for both NBC and O'Brien reportedly dismissed the notion as "ludicrous", commenting, "He has two and a half years left on his deal. How would they even do that?" NBC Universal
NBC Universal
NBCUniversal Media, LLC is a media and entertainment company engaged in the production and marketing of entertainment, news, and information products and services to a global customer base...

 chief Jeff Zucker
Jeff Zucker
Jeffrey "Jeff" Zucker is an American television executive and former President and CEO of NBCUniversal.-Personal life:Zucker was born to Jewish-American parents in Homestead, Florida, near Miami. His father was a cardiologist, and his mother, Arlene, was a school teacher...

 made the threat with the belief that O'Brien's contract contains a clause that allows the network to bench him for an additional one year after his contract expires, known legally as a non-compete clause
Non-compete clause
A non-compete clause , or covenant not to compete , is a term used in contract law under which one party agrees not to pursue a similar profession or trade in competition against another party . As a contract provision, a CNC is bound by traditional contract requirements including the...

, although such a condition is generally unlawful in the state of California. An insider on O'Brien's side countered that NBC would be in breach of an addendum to the contract if The Tonight Show were moved to a later time slot.

NBC could potentially retain intellectual property
Intellectual property
Intellectual property is a term referring to a number of distinct types of creations of the mind for which a set of exclusive rights are recognized—and the corresponding fields of law...

 originating from O'Brien's entire 17-year tenure with the network, including segments and characters such as the Masturbating Bear, In the Year 3000, and Conando. This also includes the rights to one of the best known characters created during O'Brien's tenure at NBC, Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog
Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog
Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog is a character puppet best known for mocking celebrities. Triumph was identified in the early appearances as a Yugoslavian Mountain Hound, hence his distinct Eastern European accent . As his name indicates, Triumph's comedic style is almost exclusively insult comedy...

. NBC also kept David Letterman
David Letterman
David Michael Letterman is an American television host and comedian. He hosts the late night television talk show, Late Show with David Letterman, broadcast on CBS. Letterman has been a fixture on late night television since the 1982 debut of Late Night with David Letterman on NBC...

's intellectual property rights when he left the network in 1993, though he circumvented the restrictions by changing names of sketches. O'Brien has done the same for his tour, turning the Masturbating Bear into the Self-Pleasuring Panda. The Washington Post
The Washington Post
The Washington Post is Washington, D.C.'s largest newspaper and its oldest still-existing paper, founded in 1877. Located in the capital of the United States, The Post has a particular emphasis on national politics. D.C., Maryland, and Virginia editions are printed for daily circulation...

reported that retaining the characters is "not a key issue for O'Brien." However, this would prove not to be the case when O'Brien announced he would move to TBS in November, NBC announced that they "wished Conan the best" and he would be allowed to take his old bits to his new show, Conan.

Settlement


On January 19, multiple media outlets reported that O'Brien and NBC were close to signing a deal between $30 and $40 million for the host to walk away from the network. After two weeks of negotiations, on January 21, it was announced that Conan O'Brien had signed a $45 million deal to leave NBC.
The Wall Street Journal reported that O'Brien will receive about $32 million, with his staff receiving around $12 million. However, announcer-sidekick Andy Richter
Andy Richter
Paul Andrew "Andy" Richter is an American actor, writer, comedian, and late night talk show announcer. He is best known for his role as the sidekick of Conan O'Brien on each of the host's programs: Late Night and The Tonight Show on NBC, and Conan on TBS...

 and bandleader Max Weinberg
Max Weinberg
Max Weinberg is an American drummer and television personality, most widely known as the longtime drummer for Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band and as the bandleader for Conan O'Brien on Late Night with Conan O'Brien and The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien.Weinberg grew up in suburban New Jersey...

 would need to negotiate their own agreements with the network. O'Brien paid around 50 stagehands and various crew members at least six weeks severance pay out of his own pocket, as NBC gave those particular staffers nothing in the settlement. The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees has said that they were "very happy" with how O'Brien treated his employees during the conflict.

The contract contains a clause prohibiting O'Brien from making negative remarks about NBC for a certain amount of time; it does not, however, contain the previously rumored "mitigation clause", in which NBC would be able to keep some of the severance pay after O'Brien finds a new program. It also stipulates that he may return to television on another network no earlier than September 1, 2010. The network confirmed that Leno would officially resume as host of The Tonight Show on March 1. NBC reran
Rerun
A rerun or repeat is a re-airing of an episode of a radio or television broadcast. The invention of the rerun is generally credited to Desi Arnaz. There are two types of reruns—those that occur during a hiatus, and those that occur when a program is syndicated. Reruns can also be, as the...

 episodes from O'Brien's time as host until the network began airing the Olympics on February 15.

O'Brien's final week of shows


Once it was made public that January 22 would likely be O'Brien's last
Tonight Show episode, a number of particularly well-known celebrities were booked to be guests on the program, including Martin Scorsese
Martin Scorsese
Martin Charles Scorsese is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, actor, and film historian. In 1990 he founded The Film Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to film preservation, and in 2007 he founded the World Cinema Foundation...

, Quentin Tarantino
Quentin Tarantino
Quentin Jerome Tarantino is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, cinematographer and actor. In the early 1990s, he began his career as an independent filmmaker with films employing nonlinear storylines and the aestheticization of violence...

, Robin Williams
Robin Williams
Robin McLaurin Williams is an American actor and comedian. Rising to fame with his role as the alien Mork in the TV series Mork and Mindy, and later stand-up comedy work, Williams has performed in many feature films since 1980. He won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance...

, and Adam Sandler
Adam Sandler
Adam Richard Sandler is an American actor, comedian, screenwriter, musician, and film producer.After becoming a Saturday Night Live cast member, Sandler went on to star in several Hollywood feature films that grossed over $100 million at the box office...

. Musical guests for the final week of episodes included Spoon
Spoon (band)
Spoon is an American rock band formed in Austin, Texas. The band is composed of Britt Daniel ; Jim Eno ; Rob Pope and Eric Harvey .-History:...

 and Barry Manilow
Barry Manilow
Barry Manilow is an American singer-songwriter, musician, arranger, producer, conductor, and performer, best known for such recordings as "Could It Be Magic", "Mandy", "Can't Smile Without You", and "Copacabana ."...

. The guests for the final episode were Tom Hanks
Tom Hanks
Thomas Jeffrey "Tom" Hanks is an American actor, producer, writer, and director. Hanks worked in television and family-friendly comedies, gaining wide notice in 1988's Big, before achieving success as a dramatic actor in several notable roles, including Andrew Beckett in Philadelphia, the title...

, Will Ferrell
Will Ferrell
John William "Will" Ferrell is an American comedian, impressionist, actor, and writer. Ferrell first established himself in the late 1990s as a cast member on the NBC sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live, and has subsequently starred in the comedy films Old School, Elf, Anchorman, Talladega...

, and musical guest Neil Young
Neil Young
Neil Percival Young, OC, OM is a Canadian singer-songwriter who is widely regarded as one of the most influential musicians of his generation...

. Ferrell was O'Brien's first guest when he began The Tonight Show in June 2009; Hanks appeared on the second episode.

In addition, a number of unannounced celebrities "dropped by" during various segments of the show. On January 13, Jack McBrayer
Jack McBrayer
Jack McBrayer is an American actor and comedian. He gained national exposure for his characters on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien"...

 appeared briefly in character as NBC page
NBC page
An NBC page is a person usually in his or her early twenties working in various departments of the NBC television network during a one-year period as a training ground for careers in television broadcasting and entertainment...

 Kenneth Parcell
Kenneth Parcell
Kenneth Ellen Parcell is a fictional character in the comedy television series 30 Rock. He is portrayed by actor Jack McBrayer and first appeared on television in the 30 Rock episode "Pilot" on October 10, 2006...

 from
30 Rock
30 Rock
30 Rock is an American television comedy series created by Tina Fey that airs on NBC. The series is loosely based on Fey's experiences as head writer for Saturday Night Live...

, interrupting O'Brien's monologue while showing a tour group around the studio, noting to them that, "NBC spent more time building this studio than using it." On January 19, Norm Macdonald
Norm MacDonald
Norman Gene "Norm" Macdonald is a Canadian stand-up comedian, writer and actor. He is best known for his five seasons as a cast member on Saturday Night Live, which included anchoring Weekend Update for three years...

 walked onstage with a large gift basket
Gift basket
A gift basket, or fruit basket is typically a gift delivered to the recipient at their home or workplace. A variety of gift baskets exist: some contain fruit; while others might contain dry or canned foods such as tea, crackers and jam; or the basket might include a combination of fruit and dried...

, and read aloud from a greeting card
Greeting card
A greeting card is an illustrated, folded card featuring an expression of friendship or other sentiment. Although greeting cards are usually given on special occasions such as birthdays, Christmas or other holidays, they are also sent to convey thanks or express other feeling. Greeting cards,...

 he claimed he had been putting off giving O'Brien since June: "Congratulations on finally securing your place as permanent host of The Tonight Show. That's something they can never take away from you." Ed Helms
Ed Helms
Edward Paul "Ed" Helms is an American actor and comedian known for his work as a correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, as Andy Bernard on the US version of the sitcom/mockumentary The Office and for his role as Dr. Stu Price in The Hangover films.- Early life :Helms was born and raised...

 appeared on the January 20 program and performed a version of "Stu's Song" from
The Hangover
The Hangover (film)
The Hangover is a 2009 American comedy film directed by Todd Phillips and written by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore. The film stars Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Heather Graham, Justin Bartha and Jeffrey Tambor...

, with lyrics written to apply to O'Brien's NBC troubles. Ben Stiller
Ben Stiller
Benjamin Edward "Ben" Stiller is an American comedian, actor, writer, film director, and producer. He is the son of veteran comedians and actors Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara....

 and Paul Reubens
Paul Reubens
Paul Reubens is an American actor, writer, film producer, and comedian, best known for his character Pee-wee Herman. Reubens joined the Los Angeles troupe The Groundlings in the 1970s and started his career as an improvisational comedian and stage actor...

 (in character as Pee-wee Herman
Pee-wee Herman
Pee-wee Herman is a comic fictional character created and portrayed by American comedian Paul Reubens. He is best known for his two television series and film series during the 1980s. The childlike Pee-wee Herman character developed as a stage act that quickly led to an HBO special in 1981...

) made brief, unannounced stops on the show on January 21, and on the last show, Steve Carell
Steve Carell
Steven John "Steve" Carell is an American comedian, actor, voice artist, producer, writer, and director. Although Carell is notable for his role on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, he found greater fame in the late 2000s for playing Michael Scott on The Office...

 made a cameo appearance as an NBC employee who conducted Conan's exit interview and destroyed Conan's NBC ID badge with a paper shredder.

The January 20 episode included a sketch in which O'Brien unveiled a Bugatti Veyron
Bugatti Veyron
The Bugatti Veyron EB 16.4 is a mid-engined grand touring car. The Super Sport version is the fastest road-legal production car in the world, with a top speed of . The original version has a top speed of...

 dressed as a mouse, while the song "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction
(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction
" Satisfaction" is a song by the English rock band The Rolling Stones, released in 1965. It was written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards and produced by Andrew Loog Oldham. Richards's throwaway three-note guitar riff — intended to be replaced by horns — opens and drives the song...

" by The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones are an English rock band, formed in London in April 1962 by Brian Jones , Ian Stewart , Mick Jagger , and Keith Richards . Bassist Bill Wyman and drummer Charlie Watts completed the early line-up...

 played in the background. O'Brien claimed that the car and music licensing fees ("not to mention the rights to re-air this clip on the Internet") would cost NBC $1.5 million. It was later revealed that the car was on loan from the Petersen Automotive Museum
Petersen Automotive Museum
The Petersen Automotive Museum is located on Wilshire Boulevard along Museum Row in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles. One of the world's largest automotive museums, the Petersen Automotive Museum is a non profit organization specializing in the education and history of the...

. The segment was subsequently cut from internet versions of the episode posted on Hulu
Hulu
Hulu is a website and over-the-top subscription service offering ad-supported on-demand streaming video of TV shows, movies, webisodes and other new media, trailers, clips, and behind-the-scenes footage from NBC, Fox, ABC, and Obstacle on October 20th 2011 Nickelodeon and CBS and many other...

 and NBC.com, apparently to avoid paying the licensing fees required for the song.

The theme of supposedly "expensive" show content continued on the January 21 show, this time featuring 2009 Kentucky Derby
2009 Kentucky Derby
The 2009 Kentucky Derby was the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby. The value of the race was $2,177,000 in stakes. The race was sponsored by Yum! Brands and hence officially was called Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands. The race took place on May 2, 2009, and was televised in the United...

 winner Mine That Bird
Mine That Bird
Mine That Bird is a retired American racehorse. He is best known for being one of only nine geldings to win the Kentucky Derby, and the second gelding to win the race since 1929...

 wearing a mink
Mink
There are two living species referred to as "mink": the European Mink and the American Mink. The extinct Sea Mink is related to the American Mink, but was much larger. All three species are dark-colored, semi-aquatic, carnivorous mammals of the family Mustelidae, which also includes the weasels and...

 Snuggie and watching restricted Super Bowl
Super Bowl
The Super Bowl is the championship game of the National Football League , the highest level of professional American football in the United States, culminating a season that begins in the late summer of the previous calendar year. The Super Bowl uses Roman numerals to identify each game, rather...

 footage, a sketch O'Brien claimed cost NBC $4.8 million to air. In the final episode on January 22, O'Brien performed a sketch featuring a fossil skeleton of a ground sloth from the Smithsonian Institution
Smithsonian Institution
The Smithsonian Institution is an educational and research institute and associated museum complex, administered and funded by the government of the United States and by funds from its endowment, contributions, and profits from its retail operations, concessions, licensing activities, and magazines...

 with a hose that sprayed beluga caviar on an original Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso
Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso known as Pablo Ruiz Picasso was a Spanish expatriate painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, and stage designer, one of the greatest and most influential artists of the...

 painting, which purportedly cost NBC $65 million. In response to the Internet community's outcry over the expense of these sketches in light of the 2010 Haiti earthquake
2010 Haiti earthquake
The 2010 Haiti earthquake was a catastrophic magnitude 7.0 Mw earthquake, with an epicentre near the town of Léogâne, approximately west of Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital. The earthquake occurred at 16:53 local time on Tuesday, 12 January 2010.By 24 January, at least 52 aftershocks...

, O'Brien explained that the segments were a joke, and that things like the Picasso painting were fakes.

The final episode


The final episode aired on January 22 and extended to January 23. In his final moments on air, O'Brien stated that between Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live is a live American late-night television sketch comedy and variety show developed by Lorne Michaels and Dick Ebersol. The show premiered on NBC on October 11, 1975, under the original title of NBC's Saturday Night.The show's sketches often parody contemporary American culture...

, Late Night
Late Night (NBC)
Late Night is an American late-night talk and variety show airing on NBC since 1982. Late Night has been hosted by David Letterman , Conan O'Brien , and Jimmy Fallon...

and The Tonight Show
The Tonight Show
The Tonight Show is an American late-night talk show that has aired on NBC since 1954. It is the longest currently running regularly scheduled entertainment program in the United States, and the third longest-running show on NBC, after Meet the Press and Today.The Tonight Show has been hosted by...

, he had worked for NBC for over 20 years, and that he was "enormously proud of the work they have done together" and thanked NBC for the first time since announcing his intention to quit. O'Brien said his decision to quit as host was "the hardest thing [he] ever had to do." He praised and gave thanks to his staff, and thanked his fans (specifically those who participated in the Los Angeles rally) for their overwhelming support and offered heartfelt advice to his viewers in his farewell address, stating:
All I ask of you is one thing... I ask this particularly of the young people who watch. Please don't be cynical. I hate cynicism. For the record, it's my least favorite quality and it doesn't lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen. I'm telling you, amazing things will happen.


Neil Young
Neil Young
Neil Percival Young, OC, OM is a Canadian singer-songwriter who is widely regarded as one of the most influential musicians of his generation...

 performed his song "Long May You Run
Long May You Run
-Side two:-Personnel:* Neil Young – vocals, guitars, piano, harmonica, synthesizer* Stephen Stills – vocals, guitar, piano* Jerry Aiello – organ, piano* George "Chocolate" Perry – bass, backing vocals...

" on this last episode. At the end of the episode, Beck
Beck
Beck Hansen is an American musician, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, known by the stage name Beck...

, Will Ferrell
Will Ferrell
John William "Will" Ferrell is an American comedian, impressionist, actor, and writer. Ferrell first established himself in the late 1990s as a cast member on the NBC sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live, and has subsequently starred in the comedy films Old School, Elf, Anchorman, Talladega...

 (dressed as Ronnie Van Zant
Ronnie Van Zant
Ronald Wayne "Ronnie" Van Zant was an American lead vocalist, primary lyricist, and a founding member of the Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd...

), Billy Gibbons
Billy Gibbons
William Frederick "Billy" Gibbons is an American musician, actor and car customizer, best known as the guitarist of the Texas blues-rock band ZZ Top. He is also the lead singer and composer for many of the band's songs. Gibbons is known for playing his Gretsch Billy Bo guitar and his famous 1959...

, Ben Harper
Ben Harper
Benjamin Chase "Ben" Harper is an American singer-songwriter and musician. Harper plays an eclectic mix of blues, folk, soul, reggae and rock music and is known for his guitar-playing skills, vocals, live performances and activism. Harper's fan base spans several continents...

, O'Brien, Viveca Paulin
Viveca Paulin
Viveca Paulin is a Swedish actress, born in Askim, Gothenburg Municipality, Sweden, who married American comedic actor Will Ferrell in August 2000. She attended Pomona College, graduating in 1991. The couple have three sons, Magnus Paulin Ferrell, born March 7, 2004, Mattias Paulin Ferrell, born...

, and The Tonight Show Band teamed up to perform "Free Bird
Free Bird
"Free Bird" is a song by the American southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd...

" to close out the show's 7-month run.

10.3 million people watched the final episode of The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien, a notably high number for live late-night viewing and for a Friday night. The final episode scored a 7.0 household rating and a 4.4 rating in the 18–49 demo. Not only did O'Brien's final show beat all late night competition, it outscored all prime time shows in the 18–49 demo from that night and the night before.

Conan O'Brien



The New York Times reported the majority of online support was overwhelmingly in favor of O'Brien; in the days following the switch announcement, 88% of related Twitter
Twitter
Twitter is an online social networking and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read text-based posts of up to 140 characters, informally known as "tweets".Twitter was created in March 2006 by Jack Dorsey and launched that July...

 posts expressed support for O'Brien. Over one million people joined two most prominent Facebook
Facebook
Facebook is a social networking service and website launched in February 2004, operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc. , Facebook has more than 800 million active users. Users must register before using the site, after which they may create a personal profile, add other users as...

 groups supporting O'Brien, "Team Conan" and "I'm With CoCo." Artist Mike Mitchell
Mike Mitchell (artist)
Mike Mitchell is an American artist known for his pop surrealism and for leading the online grassroots movement in supporting Conan O'Brien during the 2010 Tonight Show conflict. He designed the "I'm with Coco" poster, which was based on a photo, that went viral on the internet in January 2010...

 designed a poster reminiscent of the Obama "Hope" poster
Barack Obama "Hope" poster
The Barack Obama "Hope" poster is an image of Barack Obama designed by artist Shepard Fairey, which was widely described as iconic and became synonymous with the 2008 Obama presidential campaign...

 depicting O'Brien superimposed with an American flag in the background with the caption "I'm With Coco". The poster was widely circulated and displayed on the web and at various rallies. The color orange also became the choice of color for fans of Conan, referencing his light orange hair.

Rallies in support of O'Brien were organized outside NBC studios across the United States, notably in Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

, Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

, Seattle, and New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

. O'Brien briefly appeared at a January 18 rally outside the Tonight Show studio, after which he gave the crowd free pizza
Pizza
Pizza is an oven-baked, flat, disc-shaped bread typically topped with a tomato sauce, cheese and various toppings.Originating in Italy, from the Neapolitan cuisine, the dish has become popular in many parts of the world. An establishment that makes and sells pizzas is called a "pizzeria"...

. The show's announcer Andy Richter
Andy Richter
Paul Andrew "Andy" Richter is an American actor, writer, comedian, and late night talk show announcer. He is best known for his role as the sidekick of Conan O'Brien on each of the host's programs: Late Night and The Tonight Show on NBC, and Conan on TBS...

 and drummer Max Weinberg
Max Weinberg
Max Weinberg is an American drummer and television personality, most widely known as the longtime drummer for Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band and as the bandleader for Conan O'Brien on Late Night with Conan O'Brien and The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien.Weinberg grew up in suburban New Jersey...

 also made an appearance during the rally to speak to the crowd from atop the
Tonight Show studio, and Tonight Show Band
The Legally Prohibited Band
Jimmy Vivino and the Basic Cable Band is the house band for Conan O'Brien's late-night talk show Conan which debuted on November 8, 2010. Guitarist and arranger Jimmy Vivino is the group's leader...

 trombonist Richie "La Bamba" Rosenberg was driven around the crowd in a Popemobile
Popemobile
Popemobile is an informal name for the specially designed motor vehicles used by the pope during outdoor public appearances without having to employ the antiquated and often impractical sedia gestatoria. The Popemobile was designed to allow the pope to be more visible when greeting large crowds...

-style vehicle. American Red Cross
American Red Cross
The American Red Cross , also known as the American National Red Cross, is a volunteer-led, humanitarian organization that provides emergency assistance, disaster relief and education inside the United States. It is the designated U.S...

 representatives were at a number of the rallies to collect money for the Haiti earthquake
2010 Haiti earthquake
The 2010 Haiti earthquake was a catastrophic magnitude 7.0 Mw earthquake, with an epicentre near the town of Léogâne, approximately west of Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital. The earthquake occurred at 16:53 local time on Tuesday, 12 January 2010.By 24 January, at least 52 aftershocks...

 relief.

Many in Hollywood expressed support for O'Brien, including Roger Ebert
Roger Ebert
Roger Joseph Ebert is an American film critic and screenwriter. He is the first film critic to win a Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.Ebert is known for his film review column and for the television programs Sneak Previews, At the Movies with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, and Siskel and Ebert and The...

, Sarah Silverman
Sarah Silverman
Sarah Kate Silverman is a Jewish American comedian, writer, actress, singer and musician. Her satirical comedy addresses social taboos and controversial topics such as racism, sexism, and religion....

, Will Ferrell
Will Ferrell
John William "Will" Ferrell is an American comedian, impressionist, actor, and writer. Ferrell first established himself in the late 1990s as a cast member on the NBC sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live, and has subsequently starred in the comedy films Old School, Elf, Anchorman, Talladega...

, Jim Gaffigan
Jim Gaffigan
James Christopher "Jim" Gaffigan is an American stand-up comedian and actor.-Early life:Gaffigan was born in Chesterton, Indiana and attended La Lumiere School in La Porte, Indiana. He is the youngest of six children and often jokes about growing up in a large family. He attended one year at...

, Jeff Garlin
Jeff Garlin
Jeffrey "Jeff" Garlin is an American stand-up comedian, actor, producer, voice artist, director, writer and author, best known for his role as Jeff Greene on the HBO show Curb Your Enthusiasm...

, Jim Carrey
Jim Carrey
James Eugene "Jim" Carrey is a Canadian-American actor and comedian. He has received two Golden Globe Awards and has also been nominated on four occasions. Carrey began comedy in 1979, performing at Yuk Yuk's in Toronto, Ontario...

, Aziz Ansari
Aziz Ansari
Aziz Ansari is an American actor, writer, and stand-up comedian. He currently stars as Tom Haverford on the NBC show Parks and Recreation....

, Jonah Hill
Jonah Hill
Jonah Hill Feldstein , known professionally as Jonah Hill, is an American actor, producer, screenwriter, and comedian. Hill is best known roles for his roles in Superbad, Knocked Up, and Get Him to the Greek. He made his theatrical debut in I Heart Huckabees, alongside Jason Schwartzman and Dustin...

, Seth Rogen
Seth Rogen
Seth Rogen is a Canadian stand-up comedian, actor, producer, screenwriter, and voice artist. Rogen began his career doing stand-up comedy during his teen years, winning the Vancouver Amateur Comedy Contest in 1998. While still living in his native Vancouver, he landed a small part in Freaks and...

, Paul Rudd
Paul Rudd
Paul Stephen Rudd is an American actor and screenwriter. He has primarily appeared in comedies, and is known for his roles in the films Clueless, Wet Hot American Summer, Anchorman, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Dinner for Schmucks, The Object of My...

, Paul F. Tompkins
Paul F. Tompkins
Paul Francis Tompkins , best known as Paul F. Tompkins, is an American actor and comedian.-Life and career:Tompkins was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to a receptionist mother and railway worker father. He started out in stand-up comedy in 1986 at The Comedy Works, Philadelphia, PA, where he...

, Doug Benson
Doug Benson
Douglas Steven "Doug" Benson is an American stand-up comedian and actor who has appeared on Comedy Central Presents, Best Week Ever and was a contestant on Last Comic Standing in the show's fifth season....

, Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson, Alyssa Milano
Alyssa Milano
Alyssa Jayne Milano is an American actress and former singer, known for her childhood role as Samantha Micelli in the sitcom Who's the Boss? and an eight-year stint as Phoebe Halliwell on the series Charmed. She was also a series regular on the original Melrose Place portraying the role of...

, Chris Parnell
Chris Parnell
Thomas Christopher "Chris" Parnell is an American comic actor best known as a cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1998–2006 and currently for his recurring role as Dr. Leo Spaceman on NBC's Emmy Award-winning comedy series 30 Rock. Parnell also voices Cyril Figgis on the FX animated comedy...

, Marlee Matlin
Marlee Matlin
Marlee Bethany Matlin is an American actress. She is the only deaf actress to win the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, which she won for Children of a Lesser God. Her work in film and television has resulted in a Golden Globe award, with two additional nominations, and four Emmy...

, Judd Apatow
Judd Apatow
Judd Apatow is an American film producer, director, and screenwriter. He is well known for his work in comedy films, especially for films he has been involved with throughout the latter half of the 2000s. He is the founder of Apatow Productions, a film production company that also developed the...

 Ben Stiller
Ben Stiller
Benjamin Edward "Ben" Stiller is an American comedian, actor, writer, film director, and producer. He is the son of veteran comedians and actors Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara....

, Ice-T
ICE-T
* Ice-T, an American rapper and actor* ICE T , a tilting model of the German InterCityExpress series of high-speed trains...

, Matthew Perry
Matthew Perry
Matthew Perry is Canadian-American television and film actor.Matthew Perry or Matt Perry may also refer to:*Matthew C. Perry , American naval officer who forcibly opened Japan to trade with the West...

, Norm Macdonald
Norm MacDonald
Norman Gene "Norm" Macdonald is a Canadian stand-up comedian, writer and actor. He is best known for his five seasons as a cast member on Saturday Night Live, which included anchoring Weekend Update for three years...

, Howard Stern
Howard Stern
Howard Allan Stern is an American radio personality, television host, author, and actor best known for his radio show, which was nationally syndicated from 1986 to 2005. He gained wide recognition in the 1990s where he was labeled a "shock jock" for his outspoken and sometimes controversial style...

, and Ricky Gervais
Ricky Gervais
Ricky Dene Gervais is an English comedian, actor, director, radio presenter, producer, musician, and writer.Gervais achieved mainstream fame with his television series The Office and the subsequent series Extras, both of which he co-wrote and co-directed with friend and frequent collaborator...

. Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live is a live American late-night television sketch comedy and variety show developed by Lorne Michaels and Dick Ebersol. The show premiered on NBC on October 11, 1975, under the original title of NBC's Saturday Night.The show's sketches often parody contemporary American culture...

s Seth Meyers
Seth Meyers
Seth Adam Meyers is an American actor and comedian. He currently serves as head writer for Saturday Night Live and hosts its news parody segment Weekend Update.-Early life:...

 addressed the controversy on the program's Weekend Update
Weekend Update
Weekend Update is a Saturday Night Live sketch that comments on and parodies current events. It is the show's longest running recurring sketch, having been on since the show's first broadcast, and is typically presented in the middle of the show immediately after the first musical performance...

segment, defending O'Brien and summarizing the situation by comparing NBC to the husband of two wives, who had decided to leave one wife for another, and then change their mind and be married to both, angering both wives. Meyers went on to sarcastically claim that the network's hope for survival all rested on Chuck
Chuck (TV series)
Chuck is an action-comedy/spy-drama television program from the United States created by Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak. The series is about an "average computer-whiz-next-door" named Chuck, played by Zachary Levi, who receives an encoded e-mail from an old college friend now working for the Central...

.

All media outlets that offered an opinion were universally in support of O'Brien, such as Gawker, Perez Hilton
Perez Hilton
Mario Armando Lavandeira, Jr. , better known as Perez Hilton , is an American blogger and television personality. His blog, Perezhilton.com , is known for posts covering gossip items about celebrities...

 or The Examiner, as were less usual outlets such as advertisements running on Adult Swim
Adult Swim
Adult Swim is an adult-oriented Cable network that shares channel space with Cartoon Network from 9:00 pm until 6:00 am ET/PT in the United States, and broadcasts in countries such as Australia and New Zealand...

. Numerous parody videos appeared on sites like YouTube
YouTube
YouTube is a video-sharing website, created by three former PayPal employees in February 2005, on which users can upload, view and share videos....

 and Funny or Die
Funny or Die
Funny or Die is a comedy video website founded by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay's production company, Gary Sanchez Productions with original and user-generated content. Funny or Die contains exclusive material from a number of famous contributors and also has its own Funny or Die Team, which creates...

, in favor of O'Brien.

David Letterman


David Letterman
David Letterman
David Michael Letterman is an American television host and comedian. He hosts the late night television talk show, Late Show with David Letterman, broadcast on CBS. Letterman has been a fixture on late night television since the 1982 debut of Late Night with David Letterman on NBC...

 of CBS
CBS
CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...

' Late Show
Late Show with David Letterman
Late Show with David Letterman is a U.S. late-night talk show hosted by David Letterman on CBS. The show debuted on August 30, 1993, and is produced by Letterman's production company, Worldwide Pants Incorporated. The show's music director and band-leader of the house band, the CBS Orchestra, is...

was one of the more adamant critics of NBC and Leno's handling of the conflict. Letterman was dubious that Leno would even leave The Tonight Show in 2009. He noted that, "We went through our own version of this, 17, 18 years ago," referring to his being denied the host position on The Tonight Show in 1992; Leno received the job, and Letterman left NBC for CBS. Letterman immediately responded to the timeslot conflict in January 2010, repeatedly referring to Leno as "Jay 'Big Jaw' Leno", and called his actions and statements "vintage Jay." Noting the criticism of his many barbs against Leno, Letterman stated that he was making fun of Leno "because I'm enjoying it very much. It's just a lot of fun." Letterman ridiculed Leno's recent "state of the network address", wherein he pleaded for viewers not to "blame Conan," with Letterman noting, "In the thousands and thousands of words that have been printed about this mess, who has blamed Conan?" Leno would later appear with Letterman and Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey is an American media proprietor, talk show host, actress, producer and philanthropist. Winfrey is best known for her self-titled, multi-award-winning talk show, which has become the highest-rated program of its kind in history and was nationally syndicated from 1986 to 2011...

 in a Late Show promo that aired on CBS during Super Bowl XLIV
Super Bowl XLIV
Super Bowl XLIV was an American football game between the American Football Conference champion Indianapolis Colts and the National Football Conference champion New Orleans Saints to decide the National Football League champion for the 2009 season. The Saints defeated the Colts by a score of...

, though Letterman had originally wished for O'Brien to also appear in the promo.

Letterman has called O'Brien a "fine man", and remarked that Al Jazeera
Al Jazeera
Al Jazeera is an independent broadcaster owned by the state of Qatar through the Qatar Media Corporation and headquartered in Doha, Qatar...

 is more trustworthy than NBC. Letterman reflected on the controversy, saying the situation was "all about the money"; he believed the NBC executives wanted "Conan to quit and go away and do a show in his basement... But he’s a smart kid, he’s not going to do that. He’s in there for the cash. Or they waive his non-compete clause so he can go to Fox or come here and take my job."

Jimmy Kimmel


Jimmy Kimmel
Jimmy Kimmel
James Christian "Jimmy" Kimmel is an American television host and comedian. He is the host of Jimmy Kimmel Live!, a late-night talk show that airs on ABC. Prior to that, Kimmel was best known as the co-host of Comedy Central's The Man Show and Win Ben Stein's Money...

 of ABC
American Broadcasting Company
The American Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network. Created in 1943 from the former NBC Blue radio network, ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Company and is part of Disney-ABC Television Group. Its first broadcast on television was in 1948...

's Jimmy Kimmel Live! was also quick to publicly criticize NBC and Leno. A seemingly angered Kimmel went so far as to perform an entire episode of his program dressed in character as Leno, with a prosthetic chin and hair, and mimicking Leno's high voice and lisp, while mocking the host and his show. This included telling jokes in the style of Leno's show, Cleto the bandleader imitating Kevin Eubanks
Kevin Eubanks
Kevin Tyrone Eubanks is an American jazz guitarist and composer who was the leader of the Tonight Show Band with host Jay Leno from 1995 to 2010. He also led The Primetime Band on the short-lived The Jay Leno Show.- Personal background :Eubanks was born into a musical family...

' laugh and mannerisms, and Kimmel performing the popular Leno segment "Headlines". While interviewing Chevy Chase
Chevy Chase
Cornelius Crane "Chevy" Chase is an American comedian, writer, and television and film actor, born into a prominent entertainment industry family. Chase worked a plethora of odd jobs before moving into comedy acting with National Lampoon...

, who was briefly dressed as O'Brien, he remained in character, up until the very end of the show when he claimed he had "run out of steam" for the impression.

Two days later, he was invited onto The Jay Leno Show to participate in its "Ten at Ten" segment, during which he mocked Leno and the timeslot conflict several times. During the segment, Leno asked Kimmel about the "best prank" he ever pulled, to which Kimmel responded, "The best prank I ever pulled was I told a guy, 'Five years from now, I'm gonna give you my show.' And then when the five years came, I gave it to him, and then I took it back almost instantly." Leno followed up by asking, "Ever order anything off the TV?", to which Kimmel shot back, "Like NBC ordered your show off the TV?"

On January 28, Leno appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show
The Oprah Winfrey Show
The Oprah Winfrey Show is an American syndicated talk show hosted and produced by its namesake Oprah Winfrey. It ran nationally for 25 seasons beginning in 1986, before concluding in 2011. It is the highest-rated talk show in American television history....

, claiming he had been "sucker punched" by Kimmel during the "Ten at Ten" segment. Kimmel rebuffed the notion that Leno had been "sucker punched", and noted that very few of the questions he was asked on-air were used during the pre-interview. In his monologue, Kimmel continued to take shots at Leno saying, "At one time he was a comedian," and "He's a tattletale."

Jimmy Fallon


Jimmy Fallon
Jimmy Fallon
James Thomas "Jimmy" Fallon, Jr. is an American actor, comedian, singer, musician and television host. He currently hosts Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, a late-night talk show that airs Monday through Friday on NBC...

, of NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

's Late Night
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon is an American late-night talk show hosted by Jimmy Fallon on NBC. The show premiered on March 2, 2009, as the third incarnation of the Late Night franchise originated by David Letterman....

, which immediately follows The Tonight Show, refused to take sides, calling O'Brien and Leno "two of my heroes and two of my friends." He later joked that, "There's been three hosts of Late Night: David Letterman, Conan O'Brien, and me. And if there's one thing I've learned from Dave and Conan, it's that hosting this show is a one-way ticket to not hosting The Tonight Show." In the episode of Late Night that directly followed O'Brien's final episode of The Tonight Show, Fallon toured Studio 6A, where Conan's incarnation of Late Night taped, and sang "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday
It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday
"It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday" is an R&B song written by Motown husband-and-wife songwriting team Freddie Perren and Christine Yarian for the 1975 film Cooley High. In the film, the song is performed by Motown artist G.C. Cameron, whose rendition peaked at number 38 on the Billboard R&B...

" with The Roots
The Roots
The Roots is an American hip hop/neo soul band formed in 1987 by Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter and Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They are famed for beginning with a jazzy, eclectic approach to hip hop which still includes live instrumentals...

, who wore black to mark the occasion. To introduce the show, Questlove paid tribute by having a "Conan" placard in front of his face throughout the show and also announced the number of the episode (#187) by singing "187 and CoCo rocks" to the tune of Deep Cover
Deep Cover (song)
"Deep Cover", also known as "187", is Dr. Dre's debut solo single, his first song since the N.W.A. break up. It was made for the soundtrack from the film Deep Cover . The song features Snoop Dogg making his first appearance on record.-History:...

 by Dr. Dre
Dr. Dre
Andre Romelle Young , primarily known by his stage name Dr. Dre, is an American record producer, rapper, record executive, entrepreneur, and occasional actor. He is the founder and current CEO of Aftermath Entertainment and a former co-owner and artist of Death Row Records...

 featuring Snoop Dogg
Snoop Dogg
Calvin Cordozar Broadus, Jr. , better known by his stage name Snoop Dogg, is an American rapper, record producer, and actor. Snoop is best known as a rapper in the West Coast hip hop scene, and for being one of Dr. Dre's most notable protégés. Snoop Dogg was a Crip gang member while in high school...

, in which Snoop Dogg originally sang "187 on an undercover cop".

Craig Ferguson


Craig Ferguson
Craig Ferguson
Craig Ferguson is a Scottish American television host, stand-up comedian, writer, actor, director, author, and producer. He is the host of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, an Emmy Award-nominated, Peabody Award-winning late-night talk show that airs on CBS...

 of CBS
CBS
CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...

' The Late Late Show
The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson
The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson is a Peabody Award-winning American late-night talk show hosted by Scottish American comedian Craig Ferguson. Ferguson, the third regular host of the Late Late Show franchise, follows Late Show with David Letterman in the CBS late-night lineup...

remained relatively quiet on the topic, but noted his discomfort at having news outlets constantly talking about "which middle-aged white guy is gonna get X
Variable (mathematics)
In mathematics, a variable is a value that may change within the scope of a given problem or set of operations. In contrast, a constant is a value that remains unchanged, though often unknown or undetermined. The concepts of constants and variables are fundamental to many areas of mathematics and...

 million dollars at what point and... I’m starting to feel a bit like an AIG executive." He later expressed his opinion, calling NBC executives "lying rat bastards." In a cold open, Ferguson also remarked while hidden from the camera, "I'm sorry I can't be here tonight. I've been moved. I am now appearing at 11:30 on NBC." Though relatively quiet on his true opinions, he still makes jokes on the subject.

George Lopez


George Lopez
George Lopez
George Lopez is an American comedian, actor, and talk show host. He is mostly known for starring in his self-produced ABC sitcom George Lopez. His stand-up comedy examines race and ethnic relations, including the Mexican American culture...

 of Lopez Tonight
Lopez Tonight
Lopez Tonight was an American late-night television talk show hosted by comedian George Lopez. The hour-long program premiered on November 9, 2009, on cable network TBS. Lopez was the first Mexican American to host a late-night talk show on an English-language network in the United States. The...

 has described Leno as "the biggest two-faced dude and a back stabber," which he confirmed on an interview with Piers Morgan
Piers Morgan
Piers Stefan Pughe-Morgan , known professionally as Piers Morgan, is a British journalist and television presenter. He is editorial director of First News, a national newspaper for children....

 on CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight
Piers Morgan Tonight
Piers Morgan Tonight is a talk show on CNN, hosted by Piers Morgan. The show premiered on January 17, 2011 and filled the former Larry King Live timeslot. The theme music is written by Anthony James, composer and CEO of British company Music Candy, and his writing partner Yiorgos Bellapaisiotis,...

. Lopez continued saying that the two were "not friends. Nor have we been friendly." He also added that in his encounters with other late night talk show hosts “to a man, I think the one thing we agree on is that we’re not all crazy about Jay Leno.” When asked by Morgan if Leno is overly competitive Lopez responded, “I don’t think competition is the right word. I think he’s just a little bit more interested in everybody else than he should be." Lopez also mentioned possible racial comments from Leno that he took personally.

Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert


Jon Stewart
Jon Stewart
Jon Stewart is an American political satirist, writer, television host, actor, media critic and stand-up comedian...

 of Comedy Central
Comedy Central
Comedy Central is an American cable television and satellite television channel that carries comedy programming, both original and syndicated....

's The Daily Show reflected on the controversy, saying, "At least we don’t have to deal with Jeff Zucker
Jeff Zucker
Jeffrey "Jeff" Zucker is an American television executive and former President and CEO of NBCUniversal.-Personal life:Zucker was born to Jewish-American parents in Homestead, Florida, near Miami. His father was a cardiologist, and his mother, Arlene, was a school teacher...

. That guy’s like the Cheney
Dick Cheney
Richard Bruce "Dick" Cheney served as the 46th Vice President of the United States , under George W. Bush....

 of television, shooting shows in the face
Dick Cheney hunting incident
The Dick Cheney hunting incident occurred on February 11, 2006, when then U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney shot Harry Whittington, a 78-year-old Texas attorney, while participating in a quail hunt on a ranch in Kenedy County, Texas...

." Stewart also shouted "Team Conan" as his "Moment of Zen" at the end of the January 21 episode of The Daily Show. Stephen Colbert
Stephen Colbert
Stephen Tyrone Colbert is an American political satirist, writer, comedian, television host, and actor. He is the host of Comedy Central's The Colbert Report, a satirical news show in which Colbert portrays a caricatured version of conservative political pundits.Colbert originally studied to be an...

 of Comedy Central
Comedy Central
Comedy Central is an American cable television and satellite television channel that carries comedy programming, both original and syndicated....

's The Colbert Report asked guest Morgan Freeman
Morgan Freeman
Morgan Freeman is an American actor, film director, aviator and narrator. He is noted for his reserved demeanor and authoritative speaking voice. Freeman has received Academy Award nominations for his performances in Street Smart, Driving Miss Daisy, The Shawshank Redemption and Invictus and won...

 to read a list of "untrustworthy things," one of which paraphrased a statement made by Leno in 2004, "Conan: The 11:30 slot? Yours."

Criticism of Leno



Leno has faced heated criticism and increasing negative publicity for his perceived role in the timeslot conflict, with some critics predicting that his reputation—along with those of Jeff Zucker and NBC as a whole—had been permanently damaged by the incident. Critics have pointed to a 2004 Tonight Show clip, wherein Leno claimed he would allow O'Brien to take over without incident. At the time, Leno stated he didn't want O'Brien to leave for a competing network, adding, "I'll be 59 when [the switch occurs], that's five years from now. There's really only one person who could have done this into his 60s, and that was Johnny Carson
Johnny Carson
John William "Johnny" Carson was an American television host and comedian, known as host of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson for 30 years . Carson received six Emmy Awards including the Governor Award and a 1985 Peabody Award; he was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1987...

; I think it's fair to say I'm no Johnny Carson." Leno also described The Tonight Show as a dynasty
Dynasty
A dynasty is a sequence of rulers considered members of the same family. Historians traditionally consider many sovereign states' history within a framework of successive dynasties, e.g., China, Ancient Egypt and the Persian Empire...

, saying "you hold it and hand it off to the next person. And I don't want to see all the fighting..." At the end of the segment, he said, "Conan, it's yours! See you in five years, buddy!" Leno would later claim that he was knowingly telling a lie, in that NBC was forcing him to resign from the job.

Actor and comedian Patton Oswalt
Patton Oswalt
Patton Oswalt is an American stand-up comedian, writer, actor and voice actor. He is best known for portraying Spencer Olchin in the popular sitcom The King of Queens, voicing Remy from the film Ratatouille and Thrasher from the Cartoon Network original series Robotomy.-Early life:Oswalt was born...

 was among the first celebrities to openly voice disappointment with Leno, saying, "Comedians who don't like Jay Leno now, and I'm one of them, we're not like, 'Jay Leno sucks;' it's that we're so hurt and disappointed that one of the best comedians of our generation... willfully has shut the switch off." Rosie O'Donnell
Rosie O'Donnell
Roseann "Rosie" O'Donnell is an American stand-up comedian, actress, author and television personality. She has also been a magazine editor and continues to be a celebrity blogger, LGBT rights activist, television producer and collaborative partner in the LGBT family vacation company R Family...

 has been among O'Brien's most vocal and vehement supporters, calling Leno a "bully" and his recent actions "classless and kind of career-defining." Howard Stern
Howard Stern
Howard Allan Stern is an American radio personality, television host, author, and actor best known for his radio show, which was nationally syndicated from 1986 to 2005. He gained wide recognition in the 1990s where he was labeled a "shock jock" for his outspoken and sometimes controversial style...

 was also a harsh critic of Leno before and following the timeslot change announcement; Stern appeared on Late Night in 2006, and told O'Brien that he felt it was unlikely that Leno would ever willingly give up Tonight to anyone.

In an essay for the Wall Street Journal, Nathan Rabin
Nathan Rabin
Nathan Rabin is an American film and music critic. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Rabin was the first head writer for The A.V. Club, a position he continues to hold today....

 wrote that Leno had "raced past the reviled likes of Dane Cook
Dane Cook
Dane Jeffrey Cook is an American stand-up comedian and film actor. He has released five comedy albums: Harmful If Swallowed; Retaliation; Vicious Circle; Rough Around The Edges: Live From Madison Square Garden; and Isolated Incident. In 2006, Retaliation became the highest charting comedy album...

 and Carlos Mencia
Carlos Mencia
Carlos Mencia , born Ned Arnel Mencia, is a Honduran-born American comedian, writer, and actor. His style of comedy is often political and involves issues of race, culture, criminal justice, and social class...

 on the list of popular stand-ups hated by comedians and comedy writers." Bill Zehme, the co-author of Leno's autobiography Leading with My Chin, told the Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles Times is a daily newspaper published in Los Angeles, California, since 1881. It was the second-largest metropolitan newspaper in circulation in the United States in 2008 and the fourth most widely distributed newspaper in the country....

, "The thing Leno should do is walk, period. He's got everything to lose in terms of public popularity by going back. People will look at him differently. He'll be viewed as the bad guy." Joe Queenan
Joe Queenan
Joe Queenan is a humorist, critic and author from Philadelphia who graduated from Saint Joseph's University. He has written for numerous publications, such as Spy Magazine, TV Guide, Movieline, The Guardian and the New York Times Book Review...

 from the Wall Street Journal went further in his criticism of Leno, even comparing the controversy to Adolf Hitler's annexation of Czechoslovakia
German occupation of Czechoslovakia
German occupation of Czechoslovakia began with the Nazi annexation of Czechoslovakia's northern and western border regions, known collectively as the Sudetenland, under terms outlined by the Munich Agreement. Nazi leader Adolf Hitler's pretext for this effort was the alleged privations suffered by...

.

NBC Sports
NBC Sports
NBC Sports is the sports division of the NBC television network. Formerly "a service of NBC News," it broadcasts a diverse array of programs, including the Olympic Games, the NFL, the NHL, MLS, Notre Dame football, the PGA Tour, the Triple Crown, and the French Open, among others...

 head executive and former Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live is a live American late-night television sketch comedy and variety show developed by Lorne Michaels and Dick Ebersol. The show premiered on NBC on October 11, 1975, under the original title of NBC's Saturday Night.The show's sketches often parody contemporary American culture...

producer Dick Ebersol
Dick Ebersol
Duncan "Dick" Ebersol is an American television executive and a senior adviser for . He had previously been the chairman of NBC Sports, producing large scale television events such as the Olympic Games and National Football League broadcasts....

 spoke out against all who had recently mocked Leno, calling them "chicken-hearted and gutless." Jeff Gaspin also defended Leno: "This has definitely crossed the line. Jay is the consummate professional and one of the hardest-working people in television. It's a shame that he's being pulled into this." Paul Reiser
Paul Reiser
Paul Reiser is an American stand-up comedian, actor, television personality, author, screenwriter and musician. He is most widely known for his role on the long-running television sitcom Mad About You.-Early life:...

, Jerry Seinfeld
Jerry Seinfeld
Jerome Allen "Jerry" Seinfeld is an American stand-up comedian, actor, writer, and television and film producer, known for playing a semi-fictional version of himself in the situation comedy Seinfeld , which he co-created and co-wrote with Larry David, and, in the show's final two seasons,...

 and Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey is an American media proprietor, talk show host, actress, producer and philanthropist. Winfrey is best known for her self-titled, multi-award-winning talk show, which has become the highest-rated program of its kind in history and was nationally syndicated from 1986 to 2011...

 were among the few celebrities to voice support exclusively for Leno. Seinfeld and Reiser both had television programs in development with NBC at the time, with Seinfeld's The Marriage Ref
The Marriage Ref
The Marriage Ref is a TV reality show and panel game hosted by comedian Tom Papa and produced by Jerry Seinfeld, in which a rotating group of celebrities decides the winners of real-life marital disputes. The show premiered on NBC on Sunday, February 28, 2010 on the final night of the Olympics...

specifically benefitting from Leno vacating the 10pm timeslot.

Responding to the mounting criticism, Leno claimed that NBC executives had told him that they were "75% sure" O'Brien would be willing to accept the proposed arrangement and then would not let either host out of their contract. Leno also said that the situation was "all business."

On January 25, Leno taped an audience-less interview for The Oprah Winfrey Show
The Oprah Winfrey Show
The Oprah Winfrey Show is an American syndicated talk show hosted and produced by its namesake Oprah Winfrey. It ran nationally for 25 seasons beginning in 1986, before concluding in 2011. It is the highest-rated talk show in American television history....

in what some think was an attempt to repair some of the damage done to his public image. During the interview, which aired on January 28, Leno confirmed that he had not spoken to O'Brien since the programming changes were first announced. A poll on Winfrey's website regarding the controversy taken following the interview reflected support for O'Brien at an overwhelming 96%, and with 95% feeling Leno should not return to Tonight. The day after the interview, the poll page was quietly and unexpectedly taken offline. During a post-interview question and answer session, Winfrey told some audience members who expressed support for O'Brien that they only felt that way due to "not knowing how the industry worked."

Criticism of NBC


Critics also questioned promotions for an appearance by 2008 vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin
Sarah Louise Palin is an American politician, commentator and author. As the Republican Party nominee for Vice President in the 2008 presidential election, she was the first Alaskan on the national ticket of a major party and first Republican woman nominated for the vice-presidency.She was...

 on Leno's Tonight Show. The advertisements claimed that she had never made a late-night talk show appearance before—despite her appearing on the Conan O'Brien Tonight Show on December 11, 2009. Nikki Finke
Nikki Finke
Nikki Finke is an American journalist and blogger. She is Founder and Editor in chief and President of Deadline.com, a website with original content consisting of her and other veteran showbiz journalists' reporting and commentary on the business of the entertainment industry formerly known as...

, a blogger for the Deadline Hollywood website, cited this as more evidence of NBC attempting to erase any remnants of the O'Brien era.

The situation was also parodied in NBC sitcom 30 Rock
30 Rock
30 Rock is an American television comedy series created by Tina Fey that airs on NBC. The series is loosely based on Fey's experiences as head writer for Saturday Night Live...

in the 2010 episode "Khonani
Khonani
"Khonani" is the eighteenth episode of the fourth season of the American television comedy series 30 Rock, and the 76th overall episode of the series. It was written by co-producer Vali Chandrasekaran and directed by Beth McCarthy Miller...

", which aired as part of that series' fourth season.

On September 24, 2010, NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker announced he would be stepping down as CEO as soon as Comcast completes its acquisition of NBC Universal which is expected to take place at the end of 2010.

In a 2010 issue of TV Guide
TV Guide
TV Guide is a weekly American magazine with listings of TV shows.In addition to TV listings, the publication features television-related news, celebrity interviews, gossip and film reviews and crossword puzzles...

, the timeslot conflict ranked #1 on a list of TV's biggest "blunders".

Aftermath for O'Brien



Signing on to Twitter


On February 24, 2010, O'Brien attracted media attention for starting a Twitter
Twitter
Twitter is an online social networking and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read text-based posts of up to 140 characters, informally known as "tweets".Twitter was created in March 2006 by Jack Dorsey and launched that July...

 account. His "tweets", although primarily jokes, amounted to his first public statements since leaving The Tonight Show one month earlier. After about one hour, O'Brien's number of subscribers had rocketed past the 30,000 followers of the official Jay Leno account. After 24 hours, O'Brien had well over 300,000 followers. In late May 2010, he surpassed the one million mark for number of Twitter followers.

The Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour



On March 11, 2010, O'Brien announced via his Twitter
Twitter
Twitter is an online social networking and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read text-based posts of up to 140 characters, informally known as "tweets".Twitter was created in March 2006 by Jack Dorsey and launched that July...

 account that he would embark on a 30-city live tour
The Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour
The Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour was a comedy tour featuring Conan O'Brien. The title of the tour is a reference to the 2010 Tonight Show host and timeslot conflict which resulted in O'Brien resigning from his position as host of The Tonight Show in January 2010...

 beginning April 12, entitled "The Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour". Co-host Andy Richter
Andy Richter
Paul Andrew "Andy" Richter is an American actor, writer, comedian, and late night talk show announcer. He is best known for his role as the sidekick of Conan O'Brien on each of the host's programs: Late Night and The Tonight Show on NBC, and Conan on TBS...

, along with members of the band (now called The Legally Prohibited Band
The Legally Prohibited Band
Jimmy Vivino and the Basic Cable Band is the house band for Conan O'Brien's late-night talk show Conan which debuted on November 8, 2010. Guitarist and arranger Jimmy Vivino is the group's leader...

) sans Weinberg, joined O'Brien on the tour, which ended in Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta is the capital and most populous city in the U.S. state of Georgia. According to the 2010 census, Atlanta's population is 420,003. Atlanta is the cultural and economic center of the Atlanta metropolitan area, which is home to 5,268,860 people and is the ninth largest metropolitan area in...

 on June 14, 2010. $695 VIP
VIP
VIP and V.I.P. is a three-letter acronym that may refer to:-In general:* Vacuum insulated panel* Values, Influence, and Peers, an anti-crime campaign in Ontario elementary schools* Variable Information Printing, a form of on-demand printing...

 tickets offered the opportunity to meet O'Brien in person.

Move to TBS



On April 12, 2010, just hours before the start of his tour in Eugene, Oregon
Eugene, Oregon
Eugene is the second largest city in the U.S. state of Oregon and the seat of Lane County. It is located at the south end of the Willamette Valley, at the confluence of the McKenzie and Willamette rivers, about east of the Oregon Coast.As of the 2010 U.S...

, O'Brien announced that he would host a new show on cable station TBS
TBS (TV channel)
TBS , stylized in the logo as tbs, is an American cable television channel owned by Time Warner that shows a variety of programming, with a focus on comedy. TBS was originally known as WTCG, a UHF terrestrial television station that broadcast from Atlanta, Georgia, during the late 1970s...

 beginning November 8, 2010, to air Mondays through Thursdays beginning at 11 pm ET/10 pm CT. O'Brien's addition moved Lopez Tonight
Lopez Tonight
Lopez Tonight was an American late-night television talk show hosted by comedian George Lopez. The hour-long program premiered on November 9, 2009, on cable network TBS. Lopez was the first Mexican American to host a late-night talk show on an English-language network in the United States. The...

with George Lopez
George Lopez
George Lopez is an American comedian, actor, and talk show host. He is mostly known for starring in his self-produced ABC sitcom George Lopez. His stand-up comedy examines race and ethnic relations, including the Mexican American culture...

 back one hour to midnight ET/11 pm CT. O'Brien refused at first to do to Lopez what had happened to O'Brien at NBC, but agreed to join the network after Lopez called to persuade him to come to TBS. O'Brien's production company, Conaco
Conaco
Conaco is the television production firm owned by entertainer Conan O'Brien. It has produced programs primarily for NBCUniversal, including O'Brien's Late Night and Tonight shows. David Kissinger, former NBCU executive and the son of Henry Kissinger, has been president since 2005.Conaco's first...

, owns all rights to the show.

60 Minutes interview


After being prohibited from making television appearances of any kind until May, O'Brien spoke about the Tonight Show conflict on the CBS
CBS
CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...

 newsmagazine 60 Minutes
60 Minutes
60 Minutes is an American television news magazine, which has run on CBS since 1968. The program was created by producer Don Hewitt who set it apart by using a unique style of reporter-centered investigation....

on May 2, 2010. During the interview with Steve Kroft
Steve Kroft
Steve Kroft is an American journalist and a longtime correspondent for 60 Minutes. His investigative reporting has garnered him much acclaim, including three Peabody Awards and nine Emmy awards, one of which was an Emmy for Lifetime Achievement.-Early life:Born on August 22, 1945 in Kokomo,...

, O'Brien said the situation felt "like a marriage breaking up suddenly, violently, quickly. And I was just trying to figure out what happened." He also said he "absolutely" expected NBC to give him more of a chance, and if in Jay Leno's position, he would not have come back to The Tonight Show. However, Conan does not feel as though he got shafted. "It's crucial to me that anyone seeing this take-- they take anything away from this it's I'm fine. I'm doing great," said O'Brien. "I hope people still find me comedically absurd and ridiculous. And I don't regret anything." Nearly 13.5 million people watched the 60 Minutes edition with Conan's interview, making it the eighth most-watched program of the week.