Conan O’Brien broke his silence and released an official statement today that confirms the Tonight Show host has no interest in moving to 12:05am to accommodate Jay Leno.
After Leno’s canning in the 10pm slot this past weekend, NBC proposed to Conan a move to 12:05am with an hour-long show so Leno could move back into his old familiar 11:35pm slot. Sources close to Conan claimed the host was furious with this offer yesterday which pans out to be right on the money.
“My staff and I have worked unbelievably hard and we are very proud of our contribution to the legacy of The Tonight Show,” stated Conan. “But I cannot participate in what I honestly believe is its destruction. Some people will make the argument that with DVRs and the Internet a time slot doesn’t matter. But with the Tonight Show, I believe nothing could matter more.”
Other rumors suggested Conan had an offer on the table already from Fox, on record for having tried to recruit him in the past, but Conan was quick to refute that claim. He did not mention whether discussions were underway with Fox which is more likely the case (assuming he legally can).
While this whole mess started with Jay Leno’s under-performance, it looks to end with Conan’s appeal. Will NBC stick with their red-headed prodigy and drop Leno altogether or bid Conan adieu and let him sign elsewhere so Leno can return to The Tonight Show? The answer likely begins and ends with whatever wording is embedded within Conan’s contract that would allow him to depart abruptly.
Read Conan’s full statement at CNN.