Followers of Conan O'Brien's Twitter account got an exciting update around noon today when the former Late Night (and brief Tonight Show) host announced that TBS has hired him for a new show to begin in November.
While the idea of Conan back on television is fantastic, it should be taken with a grain of salt, as TBS has yet to produce a worthy comedy talk show (in my opinion, at least). Still, what is important here is the fact that Conan will once again have a national audience, after his Legally Prohibited From Being Funny On Television Tour settles down.
In a press release from TBS, George Lopez looks to be the mastermind behind the Conan snag. His own show, Lopez Tonight, will be pushed to midnight, allowing Conan to return to his Late Night time slot. The unnamed show will air at 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday every week. Conan will have full ownership of the show and receive a healthy $10 million salary, which should sit nicely on top of the $40 million settlement he already got from NBC.
The Superstation is the top-rated comedy network, but still needs to breakthrough in the late night talk show genre. While Lopez has appealed to some crowds, his base remains loyal, but limited.
"O’Brien began talks in earnest with TBS just last week, after George Lopez personally called him to ask that he consider joining the network’s late-night line-up. 'I can’t think of anything better than doing my show with Conan as my lead-in. It’s the beginning of a new era in late-night comedy.'”
Let's start with what might NOT work. Just look at the comedy of Frank Caliendo, a hilarious impressionist given a chance at a show - which bombed horrifically. Now, I know Caliendo is no Conan, but he was the best at his craft. It's tough to blame TBS for his downfall, but they sure didn't put much effort into the success or staying power of the show. The comparison is a stretch, but it shouldn't be forgotten how the station has failed in the past. Having said that, TBS will put everything they have into giving Conan the best opportunity for success.
TBS does know comedy and Conan's style has always thrived off his adult-oriented style. Of course, the show will air at a similar time as The Tonight Show, which would be a nice kick in the face to NBC if the viewers flock to Conan. In addition, TBS syndicates Family Guy, which nicely complements Conan's style. Frankly, TBS needs this more than Conan O'Brien does, and the hype will grow as his summer tour progresses.
However this is still a much-needed next step for Conan, whose NBC-controlled ban from televised comedy ends in the fall. Unfortunately, NBC retains the rights to many of Conan's best gags, including Triumph The Comic Insult Dog. Hopefully I speak for everybody when I say that the monkey on Conan's Twitter profile picture needs to be present every night.
The "man with the hair" updates his Twitter almost daily and they are consistently hilarious tweets, usually referring to intentions of acting like an idiot on stage, which most paying customers would be fine with. In only 20 minutes, his nearly 820,000 followers quickly began "re-tweeting" the TBS announcement and the buzz is making its way across the country in a hurry.
"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."
It was rumored for a while that Fox would snag the free agent comedian, but they clearly missed the mark. Who knows whether it would have been a better platform for Conan, but TBS is still a national Superstation and the ratings will soar if he stays fresh throughout the summer. Conan is currently in Eugene, Oregon, kicking off his Legally Prohibited From Being Funny On Television Tour.
What do you think? Is this good news or does it keep Conan from flying? Are you just happy that he'll be back on television?