msnbc | January 12, 2010
>> the talks what had as to conan o'brien and jay leno and their shows may be going on behind closed doors but with two funny men at the center of the action, there's no mystery as to what they are thinking.
>> supposing we were moving to 11:30 , but even this is not sure. see, my people said conan 's people are upset. hey, nbc said they wanted drama at 10:00 . now they got it. now they got it. everybody is mad.
>> the new host of last call with carson daly . a 6.5 earthquake hit california. did you know that? true story . the earthquake was so powerful it knocked jay leno 's show from 10:00 to 11:35 .
>> business editor for " tv guide " magazine. i think i speak with tamron when it is a little bit odd for us to be asking you about something that's going on at nbc . but what's the latest? has conan accepted this offer, if you want to call it, of starting the tonight show at midnight? will he walk?
>> according to "the new york times" conan put out a statement saying he's not going to do "the tonight show " at 12:05 .
>> what happens next?
>> what happens next? well, you know, i -- obviously, the ball is back in nbc 's court. they have to decide, do you put jay back on "the tonight show " after all this? it is -- i'm a little surprised by the decision. i think conan is clearly -- has other options out there. fox has expressed a strong interest in -- they wanted to hire him back in 2004 . there's no reason why they can't hire him now and put him on at some point at 11 cloak and get him back into the late night business.
>> i want to stress the news is just coming in as you said, "the new york times" conan will not do "the tonight show " if it airs at 12:05 . we are -- p this is true, does this mean nbc will have to pay cone sxan if the scenario here like without conan , does yea then just go back to "the tonight show " and everyone behaves as if this just didn't happen?
>> yes. i mean, i think it is like -- goes back to the days of "dallas" when patrick duffy left for a year and came out of the hour and then back on the show. you know. i wouldn't be surprised in seeing that on "the tonight show ." if that happens, i mean, now nbc really has to figure this out. i mean, obviously i think that -- looked at the contract and i think even if the contract didn't say that conan had to be on at 11:30 , "the tonight show " has been on at 11:30 for 60 years. you wouldn't sign somebody to the "today" show and say by the way, it is on at 4:00 in the afternoon now. i mean, i think that -- the deal here was pretty clear. conan thought he would be on at an earlier hour after 12:30 for the network for however many years.
>> does that mean that the lawyers are going to get involved?
>> this is breach in the deal.
>> does that mean the lawyers will get involved?
>> the network -- if conan is mott going to be happy doing the show at 12:05 , i don't think nbc will want him to do the show. i'm guessing, completely guessing here, this is -- news just out there. you know, you don't want someone who is unhappy on your air every night and -- you know, and not -- it could affect performance after a while.
>> let me interrupt you. to that point, i want to bring up --
>> are you talking about people here and emotions and --
>> yes, right.
>> and business and money.
>> i apologize for interrupting you but i want to read some of the statement released by conan o'brien because it blacks up what you were trying to say here. he says in his statement, according to "the new york times," in the statement, sadly we were never given a chance after only seven months with my tonight show in its infancy, nbc decided to retract to the terrible difficulties in prime time by making a change in our longest established late night schedule. the tone at least in the letter is one that reminds me of how it was reported david letterman felt when things fell apart for him. it is a little bit of bitterness, certainly a lot of unhappiness. he refers to david letterman in this letter, the note, he sent out, an official statement that he's --
>> i think what nbc -- what nbc did to conan is far worse than what they did to letterman. they made a choice back when they picked len over letterman. here they are backtracking on something. conan was given the 11:30 show. they did not want jay to leave and go elsewhere and compete against conan . they experimented by putting him on at 10:00 . jay's ratings were not good at 10:00 . that hurt the affiliate newscast. and hurt "the tonight show " as well. conan 's ratings were very good against david letterman had the show first went on the air back in july. he was beating him, beating letterman badly in the 18-49 demographic. that's all nbc cares about. that's what they sell their advertising time against that demo. once jay came on that lead began to shsxring now he's neck and neck with him in the demo. you know, you have to give these guys time. these are franchises that have been on the air for decades. it is habit driven television. you need time for these things to settle in. conan wasn't given that chance.
>> stephen, thank you so much. i want to read one more part of this letter you just identified. conan o'brien says my staff and i worked unbelievably hard. we are very proud of our contribution to the legacy of "the tonight show ." but i cannot participate in what i honestly believe is its destruction.
>> he says, david, he's -- wants to set the record straight about whether he's going to another network and says he currently has no other offer and honestly has no idea what happens next. so now an official statement according to t thenewyorktimes.com.
>> did you see the last line in his letter? have a great day. for the record, i'm truly sorry about my hair. it has always been that way.
>> i noticed that as well. this is stunning news. it is breaking news. conan brian with his official statement according to "the new york times" that he will not do "the tonight show " but what will he do next? it is a big one. coming