April 12, 2010
Posted: 08:01 PM ET
In a move that qualifies as a shocker, Conan O’Brien has made a deal to return to television in a new late-night show on cable — not network — television.
The former “Tonight Show” host has agreed to start a new show on TBS, the comedy-oriented cable channel in the Turner network lineup. The show will start in November and play at 11 p.m. four nights a week (Monday through Thursday), teamed with that network’s other late-night show, hosted by George Lopez. That show, now at 11, will slide to midnight.
The news comes as a stunner because Mr. O’Brien was known to be in talks with the Fox network, and most predictions had him moving there in September or January.
TBS was not known to be in the picture. But Mr. O’Brien’s representatives had been quietly talking with that cable network as issues continued to arise with the potential Fox deal.
The move will surely be closely examined for its implications for the future of broadcast vs. cable television, with one of the biggest stars of recent years in network television abandoning that side for cable.
In a release accompanying the announcement Mr. O’Brien said: “In three months I’ve gone from network television to Twitter to performing live in theaters, and now I’m headed to basic cable. My plan is working perfectly.”
Mr. O’Brien begins his live concert tour in Eugene, Ore., Monday night.
In the statement, Steve Koonin, the president of Turner Entertainment Networks, emphasized the change from network to cable.
“For decades, late-night TV has been dominated by broadcast television,” Mr. Koonin said. “Now, with a young audience and a growing late-night lineup, TBS is set to be the choice of comedy fans for years to come.”
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