Reports Conan Planning To Exit Nbc
Even as NBC executives remained stone silent on Conan O'Brien's stated refusal to go along with their plans to move The Tonight Show to 12 05 a.m., the Internet was rife with rumors about what their next move might be. Conspiracy theories popped up on various websites, many of them supported by blind sources. According to one, NBC had actually contrived the current cause célèbre in order to boost O'Brien's ratings and thereby set the stage for leaving The Tonight Show where it is. (No suggestion as to what it would then do about Jay Leno.) Another theory was that the NBC executives wanted to force O'Brien to leave in order to set him up as a scapegoat for the The Tonight Show 's ratings plunge. (O'Brien, in his own statement on Tuesday, voiced the same complaints that affiliates had made about having to follow The Jay Leno show. "It was my mistaken belief that, like my predecessor, I would have the benefit of some time and, just as important, some degree of ratings support from the prime-time schedule," O'Brien said.) According to another rumor, Leno is so furious about the way he and O'Brien had been handled that he is "considering walking away from the entire mess with his head held high." But more mainstream news reports found the makings of a feud flaring in the monologue comments of the two NBC personalities. "I just want to say to the kids out there watching You can do anything you want in life -- unless Jay Leno wants to do it, too," O'Brien quipped. Leno referred to O'Brien's complaint that he had been given only seven months to establish himself as host of The Tonight Show . "Seven months!" Leno exclaimed. "How did he get that deal? We only got four!" Meanwhile, David Letterman, who found himself in a similar set of circumstances following the departure of Johnny Carson from The Tonight Show in 1992, remarked that he had heard from the weather bureau that the cold weather hanging over much of the country is being "caused by an Arctic chill between Jay and Conan." Letterman also couldn't resist taking a shot at Leno who originally had agreed to vacate his show in 2009 to make way for O'Brien. "I miss Johnny Carson," Letterman remarked. "I mean, by God, when Johnny quit, he quit." In any event, there was nearly unanimous agreement that NBC's plan to move the Leno show to 11 35 p.m. and Tonight to 12 05 p.m. will never be implemented. Today's (Thursday) New York Times reported that "it appeared likely that Mr. O'Brien would exit NBC after firming up financial negotiations."