Conan O'Brien has explicitly rejected NBC's planned move of ''The Tonight Show'' to a 12:05 a.m. start so that Jay Leno could have his 11:35 p.m. time slot back.
O'Brien issued a statement pointing out that NBC allowed only seven months for the red-headed comedian to get his version of the show off the ground.
His statement began:
"People of Earth:
In the last few days, I've been getting a lot of sympathy calls, and I want to start by making it clear that no one should waste a second feeling sorry for me. For 17 years, I've been getting paid to do what I love most and, in a world with real problems, I've been absurdly lucky. That said, I've been suddenly put in a very public predicament and my bosses are demanding an immediate decision . . . "
Conan’s statement went on to say that "for 60 years 'The Tonight Show' has aired immediately following the late local news," and that delaying the show "into the next day to accommodate another comedy program will seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting" . . .
"So it has come to this: I cannot express in words how much I enjoy hosting this program and what an enormous personal disappointment it is for me to consider losing it. My staff and I have worked unbelievably hard and 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. Some people will make the argument that with DVRs and the Internet a time slot doesn't matter. But with 'The Tonight Show', I believe nothing could matter more . . .
"There has been speculation about my going to another network but, to set the record straight, I currently have no other offer and honestly have no idea what happens next. My hope is that NBC and I can resolve this quickly so that my staff, crew, and I can do a show we can be proud of, for a company that values our work.
Have a great day and, for the record, I am truly sorry about my hair; it's always been that way.
James Hirsen, J.D., M.A. in media psychology, is a New York Times best-selling author, commentator, media analyst and law professor. He is admitted to practice in the U.S. Supreme Court and has made several appearances there on various landmark decisions. Hirsen is the co-founder and Chief Legal Counsel for InternationalEsq.com, a legal think tank and educational institute for the study of law in the media.
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