TBS Presents Tyler Perry's House of Conan O'Brien - Macleans.ca

TBS Presents Tyler Perry’s House of Conan O’Brien

He’s ‘openly saying that he’s not the equivalent of Leno or Letterman, but of Stewart and Colbert’


Yes, you’ve probably heard. Yes, it’s true. No, I don’t think anyone saw it coming.

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Just for the heck of it, I did a Google News search and found there wasn’t a single mention of TBS in connection with “Conan O’Brien” in the last few weeks. It was all “Fox” this, and “Fox” that. Only now are we learning that the Fox deal didn’t look like it was going to work (we’ll learn more about why, but “affiliates didn’t want to give up an extra hour” seems like the obvious explanation), and O’Brien entered into talks with TBS instead. Maybe if I go back farther I could find someone, somewhere, saying something about TBS looking for someone to bump George Lopez. (What is happening to Lopez, of course, is what NBC originally wanted to do to O’Brien: bump him to a later time slot. And Lopez was doing quite well for the network.) But it’s definitely a brilliant cover-up feat on the part of the host and the network; you wouldn’t think these things could be kept secret this long in the internet era, but they did it.

Update: The L.A. Times has more on why Fox didn’t happen. In short, the network heads wanted Conan, but the affiliates were a tougher sell. And Kim Masters has more from O’Brien’s terrifying super-agent Gavin Polone.

This is also, obviously, O’Brien making a decision about what kind of host he is and what kind of audience he’s looking for. By going to basic cable and doing a show four nights a week, he’s openly saying that he’s not the equivalent of Leno or Letterman, but of Stewart and Colbert: they’re the ones he’ll be competing with directly, and it’s their audience he’ll be trying to cut into. It’ll be interesting to see how his absurdist humour does against their political humour; though they have a lot in common, their approaches are different, and it’ll be a fun test to see which the audience prefers.

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TBS Presents Tyler Perry’s House of Conan O’Brien

  1. Lopez seems cool with it and that makes sense, the lead-in will make him more popular than being at 11

    • Lopez seems to be more than cool with it. I've read reports basically saying it was Lopez's idea, and that Lopez himself reached out to Conan.

  2. "By going to basic cable and doing a show four nights a week, he's openly saying that he's not the equivalent of Leno or Letterman, but of Stewart and Colbert" Wow you don't get out much do you. The battle isn't on TV, it how their message gets to the masses. Stewart and Co get bigger numbers outside of TV's small box. The replay value on the internet makes both Stewart and Colbert the winners when it comes to gaining eye balls and mind share. The money is in the 18 to 49 block which sees TV as just one of many ways to get their content. Leno and Letterman just don't have that replay value.

    • Wow you don't get out much do you. The battle isn't on TV, it how their message gets to the masses.

      I'm not quite sure what that means in this context. I guess it's a bit like how very few people, numerically, watch cable news but it has outsized influence because so many insiders watch it and its clips are sampled in so many other media. But O'Brien up to this point has not been trying to go for outsized influence or spreading a message (does he have one?) but the network model of getting as many viewers as you can. Now he's deciding that fewer viewers are an acceptable trade-off for having more control and ownership, which is a reasonable calculation, but takes him out of direct head-to-head competition for numbers with Letterman and Leno.

  3. I'd guess he just wanted a place where there was less ratings pressure and more freedom. If he had cleared out FOX's fairly successful 11 p.m. shows and didn't get results for them right away, the affiiliates would start grumbling and then he'd be in something close to Jay Leno's old situation.

  4. The important question is, who's going to acquire the Canadian rights?

    • Tough call. I hope there is a Canadian carrier for the show. We no longer get TBS because of our screwy CRTC deal that only licenced the local channel (which became Peachtree TV). I can't see CTV running it. I really don't want Canada to get screwed over again…back in 1994, WDIV Detroit was one of the affiliates that dropped Conan, and of course they were the sole affiliate for much of the country back then.

    • Lopez Tonight airs on TLN. Maybe they would pick up Conan too. He did have Conando on NBC.

    • Maybe the Comedy Network would pick it up and run it at midnight. Sun TV is another possibility. They run Kimmel at 12, but have repeats of Becker and the Casino Rama Grill Room from 11-12. Maybe even Star, which used to run repeats of his Tonight Show.

  5. This is great news.
    Conan gets the creative freedom to do things that he couldn't ever do on NBC.
    Stewart and Colbert are getting tired and I've been waiting for an alternative to the all Obama all the time show on Comedy Central.
    Not saying that Conan has any political bias or not.
    I just want to watch a show that doesn't have any.

    • Why would you watch shows that are parodies of modern American news shows if you don't want to see people referencing American politicians?

  6. I've always seen Conan as a natural successor to Letterman. I suspect this will jeopardize such an opportunity (particularly if Letterman retires in the not so distant future).

  7. Um, over here, in the corner…the majority of us who don't even know what TBS is…

    Just reconnecting y'all with the grassroots, and people with actual basic cable or no cable.

    • I'll reconnect with people with basic cable, but I prefer to avoid socializing with people who don't have cable at all.

      With the exception of people who legitimately cannot afford basic cable, people who don't have cable at all tend to be REALLY obnoxious about it.

      • Not so much a case of "afford" as it is of "available". Much of Canada (area wise) has yet to be blessed by the diety of fibre-optics and buried wires that bring pictures to the talking box.

        That said, I'm just kind of startled that someone thumbed me down for not having upgraded cable.

    • Oh dear. It would appear something large just went overhead. You missed it, didn't you?

      Remember kids, knowledge is not wisdom.