NBC officially announced earlier today that Conan O’Brien’s last night as host of “The Tonight Show” will be tomorrow evening. Guests on tap for Conan’s final two shows include Robin Williams, Tom Hanks, Will Farrell, Barry Manilow and Neil Young.
Fans upset at the turn of events shouldn’t feel too sorry for O’Brien: The comedian, writer and host will leave the employ of NBC with his bank account fatter. Reports indicate that he and the network reached a deal that includes a $45 million buyout package, with an estimated $32.5 million going to O’Brien and the remainder going to his staff.
The deal also stipulates that the comedian must remain off the air until Sept. 1, at which time he’ll be free to begin hosting a show on another network. (And probably start by taking pot shots at NBC and Leno again.)
Speaking of shots fired, Leno and Letterman seem to be really enjoying themselves as they take increasingly hostile swipes at each other.
As a matter of fact, Letterman said Monday, “I’m telling jokes and making fun of Jay Leno over and over and over, relentlessly, mercilessly simply for one reason. I’m really enjoying it.”
Last night, Leno struck back hard with this bon mot: “Letterman’s been hammerin’ me every night. Oh, going after me. Hey Kev, you know the best way to get Letterman to ignore you? Marry him. Okay? That’s the best way. He will not bother you. He won’t look you in the eye. No problem at all.”
Meanwhile, over at Entertainment Weekly, they wasted no time at all heaping scorn on Leno, awarding the decision to move his show to 10 p.m. the top spot in their “Biggest TV Bombs and Blunders” list.
Other bone-headed moves making the ignoble lineup include Fox canceling “Family Guy” (twice); ABC’s beyond ludicrous sit-com “Cavemen,” the brilliant career choices of “NYPD Blue” star David Caruso, “Cheers” alum Shelly Long and long lost Cartwright son Pernell Roberts (“Bonanza”); and Vince McMahon’s disastrous football experiment The XFL.
And finally, Taiwan’s Apple Daily, which delighted much of the world (most notably MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann) by immortalizing Tiger Woods’ troubles in CGI animation form last month, has created another instant classic by turning the entire NBC late-night debacle into a cross between a WWE wrestling match and a superhero battle. (Check out NBC honcho Jeff Zucker as Captain America and Conan O’Brien as The Hulk!)
Thursday, January 21
Sarah Colonna, Guy Branum, Michael Yo – “Chelsea Lately”
Omarion – “Lopez Tonight”
Julie Andrews – “The Daly Show with Jon Stewart”
Blind Boys of Alabama withLou Reed – “Late Show with David Letterman”
Billy Crystal – “The Jay Leno Show”
Ben Gleib – “Last Call with Carson Daly” – rerun
Friday, January 22
Ingrid Michaelson – “The Ellen DeGeneres Show”
Brad Wollack, Natasha Leggero, Matt Braunger – “Chelsea Lately” – rerun
The Heavy – “Late Show with David Letterman”
Heartless Bastards – “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”
Tracy Ullman, Beach House – “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”
HotRats – “Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson”
David Guetta, Gossip – “Last Call with Carson Daly” – rerun