“In three months I’ve gone from network television to Twitter to performing live in theaters, and now I’m headed to basic cable," said Conan O'Brien on the occasion of his ground-breaking new deal with Time Warner's TBS. "My plan is working perfectly.”
The basic cabler gave O'Brien more than cautious network Fox--which had to cope with balky affiliates--was willing to do, allowing the late night host to own his own show (starting in November), throwing in a huge pay-day as well. It all comes down to who needed him the most: TBS. "In the coming hours and days, look for both sides to spin just what went wrong in the courtship," cautions The Wrap.
More details at Variety, the LAT and The Daily Beast, which reports that TBS comedian George Lopez was instrumental in bringing O'Brien over to build an 11 PM bridge to his show, "Lopez Tonight," which would move later, to midnight, by calling the deposed Tonight show host himself. Lopez told O’Brien:
“I really want you here. You and I are the team. I want to move to midnight.”
Meanwhile, Jay Leno is doing fine back at NBC's The Tonight Show with a much older demo than the following O'Brien was building. On basic cable, O'Brien will be free to be at his unfettered best, vying against Comedy Central's Jon Stewart for the younger demo.