Television News: Conan O’Brien Eyes Deal With Fox, But Keeps Options Open

3/31/2010 Posted by Admin

Television News

Conan O’Brien Eyes Deal With Fox, But Keeps Options Open

By our guest blogger, Alexandra Cervenak

Despite being rather unceremoniously dropped as host of “The Tonight Show” by NBC earlier this year, Conan O’Brien certainly hasn’t been shirking the public eye. First he joined Twitter, complete with a photo of him and a monkey as his requisite profile picture. Then he announced his “Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television Tour,” which kicks off next month with dates in both the US and Canada. And now O’Brien may be nearing a deal with Fox to end up back where he started - on late night television.

This week, talks between Fox and O’Brien about the comedian hosting a late night talk show for the network resumed after a two-week hiatus, but not without hitting a snag. Fox’s biggest show – and basically the biggest show on television period – “American Idol,” approached O’Brien to appear on its April 21st charity special, “Idol Gives Back.” The problem? The terms of O’Brien’s settlement with NBC state that he is prohibited from any TV appearances until May 1.

Fox insists that the invitation from “Idol” came from the show itself and not the network, and therefore doesn’t have any bearing on their ongoing talks with O’Brien. Nevertheless, not much progress has been made on a deal between the two parties, and O’Brien continues to keep his options open to cable and syndicated shows. 

O’Brien’s manager, Gavin Polone, told Fox News that "he is not even close (to signing a new contract). I don't know where that's all coming from. We've met with a few places and been in talks but nothing is even near being finalized." The same NBC settlement won’t allow O’Brien to have his own show again on a competing network until September, but in the meantime, Polone says it doesn’t matter because the comedy tour is taking up the majority of O’Brien’s time. "We've had so many different offers for different things, Conan has been offered all sorts of movie roles but we’ve had to say no because with the tour there just isn’t time for it," he claims. 

At this point, it appears O’Brien does have his pick of the litter.  Thanks to the class and humor with which he handled himself during the “Tonight Show” debacle, his popularity seems to never have been higher. Of course, if O’Brien doesn’t choose his next project carefully, he could squander some of this good will, so taking his time to decide is understandable. If he does end up landing at Fox, hopefully his fan base makes the point of following him, as competition in the late night time slot is already stiff, with NBC, ABC and CBS all having their own offerings. Conan couldn’t beat David Letterman in the ratings when he was at NBC, so after the initial novelty wears off, it remains to be seen if he could do it while at Fox.

O’Brien’s brand of quirkiness may be more suited to cable, where smaller audiences are the norm. O’Brien’s younger audience and intellectual humor seems like it would be at home someplace such as Comedy Central, as it jibes with shows like “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report.” However, with the back-to-back pairing of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, Comedy Central has the 11 p.m. – midnight timeslot locked up, and O’Brien left NBC because he refused to have his 11:35 air time pushed back. But that certainly won’t stop cable rivals from trying to replicate a similar format and vibe with O’Brien on their own network.

But whatever decision O’Brien makes about his future after his comedy tour wraps up, he better make it fast, as Polone states that in effort to keep his close knit team together O’Brien has been paying them out of his own pocket (though considering he did get $40 million to leave NBC, those paychecks may just be a drop in the bucket).

If you can’t wait until September to get your Conan fix, see his “Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television Tour” when it starts April 12 in Oregon, or follow him on Twitter at @ConanOBrien.


  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Technorati
  • Facebook
  • TwitThis
  • MySpace
  • LinkedIn
  • Live
  • Google
  • Reddit
  • Sphinn
  • Propeller
  • Slashdot
  • Netvibes


  1. Douglas0327 said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
  2. Douglas0327 said...

    I think Conan O'Brien is funny. Where ever he decides to go, I'll watch.

  3. Douglas0327 said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.