I hate getting into this late night media war, but this is getting to interesting to pass up. Conan O’Brien is telling NBC that if they follow through with plans to return Leno to the 11:35 slot then he is out of there:
Last Thursday, NBC executives told me they intended to move the Tonight Show to 12:05 to accommodate the Jay Leno Show at 11:35. For 60 years the Tonight Show has aired immediately following the late local news. I sincerely 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.
So it has come to this: I cannot express in words how much I enjoy hosting this program and what an enormous personal disappointment it is for me to consider losing it. My staff and I have worked unbelievably hard and we are very proud of our contribution to the legacy of The Tonight Show. 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.
You can read the whole letter here.
What makes this so interesting is the very public nature in which it is happening. Conan isn’t going the typical route, through a NBC PR man, instead he is taking his story straight to the people. That has to be sending shockwaves through the network. I bet Comcast is wondering what the hell they got into now.