Conan O’Brien’s Final Night On ‘The Tonight Show’
It was a public relations disaster for NBC when they decided to replace Conan O’Brien as host of ‘The Tonight Show’ and brought back Jay Leno. And even the lead-up to that debacle was a huge management mistake.
It was in 2004 that NBC announced that Conan O’Brien would take over for Jay Leno in 2009, and they later decided that Leno would host a nightly prime time talk show at 10 p.m.
Leno’s prime-time show was a ratings disaster, and after a good start, Conan’s version of ‘The Tonight Show’ stumbled too. So NBC decided to scrap the prime-time show and make it a half-hour show at 11:35 as a lead-in to ‘The Tonight Show’ at 12:05. Conan objected to it and said delaying ‘The Tonight Show’ into the next day to accommodate another comedy show would seriously damage what he considered the greatest franchise in broadcast history.
So the two sides negotiated a solution that meant Conan was out. They agreed to pay him $30 million dollars to leave ‘The Tonight Show’, and the following night was his final night as host.
Joining him on his final show was Tom Hanks, Will Ferrell and Neil Young. During the program O’Brien said: “Walking away from ‘The Tonight Show’ is the hardest thing I have ever had to do….Every comedian dreams of hosting ‘The Tonight Show’ and, for seven months, I got to. I did it my way, with people I love, and I do not regret a second.”
Conan O’Brien’s final night on ‘The Tonight Show’ happened on this date in 2010.