Authored by Jon Mercer in Movies and Television
Published on 02-24-2009
On February 20th, Conan O’Brien said goodnight from his Rockefeller Center studio for the last time. After hosting the Late Night show on NBC for sixteen years as David Letterman’s replacement, O’Brien is moving on to the spot that Letterman wanted for so long, as host of NBC’s “The Tonight Show.” Conan will also be moving across the country from New York to Los Angeles into a very comfortable new studio on the Universal lot in Universal City, near Hollywood.
The Los Angeles Times reported in the Entertainment section of Sundays edition that the signing-off of Conan O’Brien from late night television will create a void that the comedy world has been chattering about for the last five-years, ever since O’Brien was chosen to take over Jay Leno’s spot on “The Tonight Show.” There was even speculation that the network would ultimately back out of the agreement, but now it appears that NBC intends to see the deal through to fruition.
Jimmy Fallon, the former “Saturday Night Live” alumni, has been tapped to begin hosting “Late Night” in Conan’s place beginning March 2nd. Jay Leno is scheduled to host his final episode of “The Tonight Show” on May 29th and that will make way for O’Brien to take over the show on June 1st. The process has created a mixture of excitement and dread for many of those involved, and according to O’Brien, “the sense that you’re having a nervous breakdown.”
Conan O’Brien is a former writer for “The Simpson’s,” and he stated that when he looks back on that young guy, he thinks “man, you have no idea what you are in for.” Conan, who has come a long way from his struggling days as a young writer, got off to a rocky start when he began hosting “Late Night.” But despite those critically-panned first few years, he has managed to hold down the top spot in late night television for the past fifteen seasons.
Lately though, CBS’ Craig Ferguson has made some strong gains in the late night ratings war lately prompting some to question how O’Brien will fare with the “Tonight Show” audience.
Although many New Yorkers feel that Conan is betraying his late night roots by moving off to Los Angeles, he reminded the press that Los Angeles is where his career began as a writer for HBO’s “Not Necessarily the News,” and he also began his performing career in Los Angeles at the Coronet Theatre.