Conan O'Brien has a new late-night home, but the former "Tonight Show" host didn't land where most industry observers expected.
In a Monday (April 11) surprise, O'Brien and TBS announced that he will be moving to basic cable for a late-night show launching this fall.
As the news was breaking around the web, O'Brien tweeted, "The good news: I will be doing a show on TBS starting in November! The bad news: I'll be playing Rudy on the all new Cosby Show."
In a more official statement, TBS said that starting in November, Conan O'Brien's new show will air at 11 p.m.
"Conan has been the comedic voice for a generation. TBS already has a huge audience of young comedy lovers, and Conan’s show will give these fans even more reasons to watch our network," states Steve Koonin, president of Turner Entertainment Networks.
The addition of O'Brien to TBS' slate moves George Lopez's "Lopez Tonight" to midnight, but don't think that Lopez is upset to be Lenoed by O'Brien.
"I can't think of anything better than doing my show with Conan as my lead-in," Lopez says in the TBS statement. "It’s the beginning of a new era in late-night comedy."
The TBS announcement took most industry observers by surprise, since O'Brien's negotiations with FOX had been acknowledged by both sides. However, there were well-established concerns from FOX's affiliates to surrendering the already reliable 11 p.m. hour to a new program. TBS' statement says that talks with O'Brien only began in earnest last week, with Lopez specifically reaching out.
"In three months I’ve gone from network television to Twitter to performing live in theaters, and now I’m headed to basic cable," O'Brien states. "My plan is working perfectly."
"The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien" ended its truncated run on NBC in late January after less than eight months on the air, with Jay Leno returned to the familiar time slot after his primetime failure. O'Brien was offered the opportunity to shift to a later slot on NBC, but declined and took a lucrative buy-out. With FOX's long-professed desire to return to late-night viability, that move was considered likely, with a syndicated show seeming like the most logical alternative.
Instead, TBS has staked its position as a late-night alternative to Leno, David Letterman and Comedy Central's "Daily Show"/"Colbert Report" block.
"For decades, late-night TV has been dominated by broadcast television," Koonin notes. "Now, with a young audience and a growing late-night lineup, TBS is set to be the choice of comedy fans for years to come."
O'Brien's Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour kicks off on Monday night and will span the United States and Canada over the next two months.
From there, we can start asking the important questions about O'Brien's TBS show: What will it be called? Where will it shoot? Will there be a home for Andy Richter?
Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available and check out TBS' quickly produced announcement video:
A long-time member of the TCA Board and a longer-time blogger of "American Idol," Dan Fienberg writes about TV, except for when he writes about movies or sometimes writes about the Red Sox. But never music. He would sound stupid talking about music.