Fans of tv show host Conan O’Brien will be heartbroken to hear the news today that he’s ending his nearly-30-year-run on late night TV. O’Brien announced Tuesday that Conan would be coming to an end in 2021.
Conan Has Been a Staple on Late Night TV for a Generation
O’Brien has been around long enough that most adults know both his face and his brand of humor well. If you’ve ever surfed the television waves late at night looking for something to watch in the pre-streaming era, chances are good you landed on O’Brien more than once.
USA Today writes, “O’Brien, a Harvard-educated former Simpsons writer, began his late-night career in the 1993 with Late Night with Conan O’Brien. But his lifelong quest to fill The Tonight Show shoes of the legendary Johnny Carson proved short-lived, when NBC gave him the show, replacing Jay Leno, only to pull the rug out in January 2010. O’Brien left and landed at TBS, and is the longest-tenured late-night host.”
Who is the Man Behind the Laughs?
O’Brien was born Conan Christopher O’Brien, the third of six children. O’Brien’s father is a noted doctor and epidemiologist, and his mother is a well-respected law partner.
Biography.com shares, “O’Brien attended Harvard University, where he majored in American History. He was elected as president of the revered parody magazine, The Harvard Lampoon twice (the only other person to hold that distinction was humorist Robert Benchley in 1912). After graduation, O’Brien moved to Los Angeles and began writing for Not Necessarily the News, a series on cable station HBO. He also performed with an improv group, The Groundlings.”
Once in L.A., O’Brien hit the ground running. He wrote many popular skits for Saturday Night Live, and became a successful writer on the Simpsons as well. In 1993, after Johnny Carson’s retirement shook up late-night programming, O’Brien became the unlikely host for the Late Show.
After Jay Leno’s contract to replace Carson on The Tonight Show expired in 2009, O’Brien was given the coveted host position. However, Leno’s intent to stick around in late-night programming caused tension as the pair fought over the coveted prime-time slot O’Brien’s Tonight Show occupied. O’Brien ended his contract in 2010 after being unable to come to a resolution with NBC, and TBS‘s flagship late night hit Conan was born.
Moving to HBO
Fans sad to see Conan go can rejoice in one thing though; O’Brien may be leaving late night, but he will still be hosting a show. The TV show host recently signed a deal with HBO Max for a new weekly variety show.
Per the New York Post, “O’Brien’s popular travel specials, Conan Without Borders — which have visited such far-flung locales as Greenland, Korea (including the Joint Security Area, or JSA, separating North and South Korea), Cuba, Ghana and Qatar — will continue on TBS.
‘Twenty-eight years is a monumental achievement in late-night television,’ said Brett Weitz, general manager of TNT, TBS and truTV. ‘We’re incredibly proud of the groundbreaking work that Conan and his team have accomplished during the 10 years at TBS and are so glad that we will continue to have his presence on our air with the Conan Without Borders specials. We celebrate his success and are glad to see it grow across our WarnerMedia family.’”
O’Brien is Following the Advice of a Legend
O’Brien didn’t just happen upon this new plan. According to the 57-year-old host, he was given advice nearly 30 years ago that led him down this path. Per Vulture, “‘In 1993 Johnny Carson gave me the best advice of my career: ‘As soon as possible, get to a streaming platform,’ O’Brien said in the press release. ‘I’m thrilled that I get to continue doing whatever the hell it is I do on HBO Max, and I look forward to a free subscription.’
Added HBO exec Casey Bloys: ‘Conan’s unique brand of energetic, relatable, and at times, absurdist comedy has charmed late-night audiences for nearly three decades. We can’t wait to see what he and the rest of Team Coco will dream up for this brand-new variety format each week.’”