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Exclusive: Team Conan Responds to Zucker, er, Ebersol's Slam

Exclusive: Team Conan Responds to Zucker, er, Ebersol's Slam

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Conan O'Brien's camp is striking back in response to NBC U sports czar Dick Ebersol's public crucification of the soon-to-be ex-"Tonight Show" host--  while also making clear it believes O'Brien's deal guarantees "Tonight" remain at 11:35 p.m.

Officially, nobody's commenting on Ebersol's blunt comments to the New York Times.  But one person deep inside Team Coco responded with a mix of bemusement and sarcasm to Ebersol's tantrum, in which he basically says that O'Brien's ratings are down because he didn't bland down his act enough.

"This is the essence of NBC's problems," the Conan insider told TV MoJoe. "Conan O'Brien is losing his job because he didn't take the comedy notes of a 62-year-old sports producer."

Shazam!

Meanwhile, Conan insiders are making sure to remove any doubt that previous reports that O'Brien's deal didn't specify a timeslot for "The Tonight Show" are "categorically untrue."

They note that during his "Late Night" days, O'Brien's contracts with NBC always specified that "Late Night" would be the show following "The Tonight Show" and that "Tonight" aired at 11:35. (This was probably to prevent NBC from one day deciding "Late Night" meant 4 a.m.)

In the "Tonight" era, O'Brien has similar language as well, one person familiar with the contents of the deal confirmed. But it's in an addendum to the contract (which may explain why NBC folks have apparently been telling certain websites that the network could move "Tonight" without penalty).

"There's a reason NBC is looking to get this done so quickly," the pro-Coco insider said.

What took so long for Team Coco to answer the notion (floated days ago) that NBC only guaranteed "The Tonight Show," and not a specific timeslot? That's unclear.

There's plenty of activity around the exit negotiations today. As previously reported, a big talking point is figuring out severance packages for the staffers who moved west and now face six- to-nine months without a job (assuming Conan is back on the air in September or early 2011).

But if negotiators are discussing details like that, it's a good sign the big issues have been settled. 

One final note on Ebersol's anti-Conan rant. The whole notion that O'Brien is too "out there" to work at 11:35 or that he hadn't attempted to broaden his brand just doesn't seem to mesh with the facts.

Indeed, some die-hard Conan supporters had been worrying in recent months that O'Brien might have become bit too tame.

For instance, one of the host's trademark moves in the "Late Night" had O'Brien pretending to twist his nipples, semi-suggestively in a sort of odd burlesque imitation. Once he moved to 11:35, such silliness was greatly reduced.

But since NBC made it clear it was dumping Conan, guess what? The wacky stuff (yes, including the nipple routine) has been making a comeback.

Maybe there's hope yet for a "Tonight Show" appearance by the Masturbating Bear.

MORE CONAN

O'Brien could be free to jump by fall

Comments

Petethefish- he said Norm wasn't funny but the backstory was Norm was doing too many OJ jokes on Weekend Update + Dick was buddies with OJ. When Norm didn't listen to Dick saying lay off
the OJ jokes, he got canned.
Dick Ebersol- Chicken hearted + gutless describes NBC pulling this move after only 7 months. Had the network been this impatient with Conan taking over for Dave OR Jay for Johnny, NBC wouldn't be in this mess now.
You say 'we bet on the wrong guy'. If you bet red + it comes up black YOU lose. You don't blame it on red. You man up, take your lumps + move on.
Conan will be fine. Pulling this stunt on all of those longtime loyal employees that uprooted their families + moved across the country isn't chicken hearted + gutless. It's stone cold hearted + downright mean.
Dick-not just a first name, also an accurate description.

also it just occurred to me that there were rumors floating about Leno's soon retirement from the "Tonight Show" around two years ago and how he was going to have to find a successer - guess that he needed a couple more mill' to buy a few more rides, anyway it appears like Conan must have really chompt on that one ?

Then there's the irony of Zucker using Ebersol to accuse Conan of being cowardly for letting the others take shots for him

I think Jay steps down because all other options are closing off

CoCo and his camp should have read the fine print -
too bad - I think his is basically a nice guy, all be it - (ever so strange) nice guys finish last, whaah

The only thing Jay is good at (anymore) is: zuckering-UP. He's been zuckering-UP to Jeff Zucker for years.

CONAN SUPPORTERS: write your congressmen & senators to BLOCK the Comcast takeover of NBC. THAT will get the peacock's ATTENTION.

The Conan camp is amazingly insular. They thought they were doing well and had a funny show. Ebersol backed Letterman in 1992. He has been there the whole time throughout late night in the 70s 80s 90 and now. He knows that Conan needed to broaden his self-amusing schtick.

Conan will never get a bigger audience than he did this week ever again. He is a train wreck.

dick ebersol was once the EP of saturday nite live. how did that go, Dick? oh, what about the whole jane pauley - deborah norville switcheroo when u were at news? oh, and what about the fact that you're abt to lose $200mm on the olympics? criticism from ebersol should be taken as high praise ...
ps. oh and by the way ... do you really need to continue to self promoite on sunday nite football? i dont recall seeing the fox EP of sports' name at the top of every one of their football games ... CHEESY

I'm not on Team Conan or Leno or any of them, and it's obviously popular to bash Leno, but I agree with TV Time...If the tables were turned, do you think any of these other guys would "step down" from what was their #1 show if it were offered back to them? Give me a break. Easy to play martyr when you're not on top.

Leno is a hack, and the NBC executives need to fall on their swords. I don't watch Conan (I'm loyal to dave), but I wouldn't watch Leno if the world ended and he was giving news on the Rapture. The sooner that loser disappeara, the better for entertainment.

January 15, 2010, 4:19PM
Jan 22 not soon enough Says

What does Ebersol know? He only was the producer of SNL that launched the film careers of Eddie Murphy, Billy Crystal, Martin Short and Christopher Guest and the tv career of Julia Louis-Dreyfus

that was then, what has he done lately?????? not a thing

Leno did not retire. He never probably ever plans to retire. He was coerced into leaving to make room for Conan. If he didn't leave NBC, he would have been on ABC or somewhere else. He should have done that or never listened to the 10pm idea from NBC execs. So when he is offered the chance to return to where he dominated successfully for 17 years after the Tonight franchise has been damaged by Howdy Doody perhaps irreparably, he's supposed to say no???

Incidentally, he has not yet accepted the Tonight Show. Maybe he'll leave too but NBC still doesn't like Conan, just like most of America.

Lilly says more Americans are going to bed earlier because there is no job in the morning. Genius!

I would love to see the masturbating bear return before Conan exits stage right! NBC should be ashamed.

What does Ebersol know? He only was the producer of SNL that launched the film careers of Eddie Murphy, Billy Crystal, Martin Short and Christopher Guest and the tv career of Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

If the NBC execs truly think Conan is to blame...then why did they originally try to keep him (before Conan bowed out on his own) and why not willingly release him from his contract if he is something they don't want? Doesn't make much sense if you think about it. NBC screwed up...again.

Jay Leno should also bow out...he was going to retire anyway (that's what started this mess).

Then NBC should offer the Tonight show to Letterman finally. And Conan could move over to the Late Show on CBS.

BUT, Dick knows who "You're So Vain" is about, so I gotta give him props there.

Who cares what Dick Ebersol thinks anyway? This is the same moron who thought it was a great idea for NBC to pay millions of dollars to air Notre Dame football games. He also thought Americans loved watching NHL games, and would watch Arena Football games just as much as they watched NFL games.

The only reason Dick Ebersol has a job is because he was smart enough to get NBC to secure the rights to the Olympics.

Dick Eberson's comments fail to convince me Conan is anything but classy and talented.
The man is extremely talented, and I think it's 'lame' that Ebersol is resorting to "he's just 'stubborn'. Did he ever ask Leno to change something he did (for whatever reason) and how able was he to morph into perfectness? Your point misses the mark Ebersol. Maybe, the ratings have nothing to do with Conans main appeal to a younger audience...maybe Americans are just getting more sleep, since so many of us are unemployed! Sadly,nobody is winning in this thing, but what won't change, is Conan's skill and wit,and man, doesn't America need 'that' right now...?

Dick Eberson's comments fail to convince me Conan is anything but classy and talented.
The man is extremely talented, and I think it's 'lame' that Ebersol is resorting to "he's just 'stubborn'. Did he ever ask Leno to change something he did (for whatever reason) and how able was he to morph into perfectness? Your point misses the mark Ebersol. Maybe, the ratings have nothing to do with Conans main appeal to a younger audience...maybe Americans are just getting more sleep, since so many of us are unemployed! Sadly,nobody is winning in this thing, but what won't change, is Conan's skill and wit,and man, doesn't America need 'that' right now...?

Ebersol's and idiot. This is the same guy who canned Norm MacDonald from SNL for "not being funny," then brings hom back the next year to host.

If he brought out masturbating bear, the tools at NBC would just edit it out.

"JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE" RE-AIRS KIMMEL APPEARING AS LENO EPISODE THIS MONDAY, JANUARY 18 ON ABC

>> Maybe there's hope yet for a "Tonight Show" appearance by the Masturbating Bear.

Final night!

Helluva nice exclusive! Awesome!

I was just telling a friend at work the nipple twisting never gets old for me. He's been doing it for 17 years and I laugh every night I see him do it and if i tune in late and miss it I am bummed. Simple things liek that make me laugh, what can I say. Or maybe it's just Conan being funny and silly that's so endearing and relatably funny.

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Comments

Petethefish- he said Norm wasn't funny but the backstory was Norm was doing too many OJ jokes on Weekend Update + Dick was buddies with OJ. When Norm didn't listen to Dick saying lay off
the OJ jokes, he got canned.
Dick Ebersol- Chicken hearted + gutless describes NBC pulling this move after only 7 months. Had the network been this impatient with Conan taking over for Dave OR Jay for Johnny, NBC wouldn't be in this mess now.
You say 'we bet on the wrong guy'. If you bet red + it comes up black YOU lose. You don't blame it on red. You man up, take your lumps + move on.
Conan will be fine. Pulling this stunt on all of those longtime loyal employees that uprooted their families + moved across the country isn't chicken hearted + gutless. It's stone cold hearted + downright mean.
Dick-not just a first name, also an accurate description.

also it just occurred to me that there were rumors floating about Leno's soon retirement from the "Tonight Show" around two years ago and how he was going to have to find a successer - guess that he needed a couple more mill' to buy a few more rides, anyway it appears like Conan must have really chompt on that one ?

Then there's the irony of Zucker using Ebersol to accuse Conan of being cowardly for letting the others take shots for him

I think Jay steps down because all other options are closing off

CoCo and his camp should have read the fine print -
too bad - I think his is basically a nice guy, all be it - (ever so strange) nice guys finish last, whaah

The only thing Jay is good at (anymore) is: zuckering-UP. He's been zuckering-UP to Jeff Zucker for years.

CONAN SUPPORTERS: write your congressmen & senators to BLOCK the Comcast takeover of NBC. THAT will get the peacock's ATTENTION.

The Conan camp is amazingly insular. They thought they were doing well and had a funny show. Ebersol backed Letterman in 1992. He has been there the whole time throughout late night in the 70s 80s 90 and now. He knows that Conan needed to broaden his self-amusing schtick.

Conan will never get a bigger audience than he did this week ever again. He is a train wreck.

dick ebersol was once the EP of saturday nite live. how did that go, Dick? oh, what about the whole jane pauley - deborah norville switcheroo when u were at news? oh, and what about the fact that you're abt to lose $200mm on the olympics? criticism from ebersol should be taken as high praise ...
ps. oh and by the way ... do you really need to continue to self promoite on sunday nite football? i dont recall seeing the fox EP of sports' name at the top of every one of their football games ... CHEESY

I'm not on Team Conan or Leno or any of them, and it's obviously popular to bash Leno, but I agree with TV Time...If the tables were turned, do you think any of these other guys would "step down" from what was their #1 show if it were offered back to them? Give me a break. Easy to play martyr when you're not on top.

Leno is a hack, and the NBC executives need to fall on their swords. I don't watch Conan (I'm loyal to dave), but I wouldn't watch Leno if the world ended and he was giving news on the Rapture. The sooner that loser disappeara, the better for entertainment.

January 15, 2010, 4:19PM
Jan 22 not soon enough Says

What does Ebersol know? He only was the producer of SNL that launched the film careers of Eddie Murphy, Billy Crystal, Martin Short and Christopher Guest and the tv career of Julia Louis-Dreyfus

that was then, what has he done lately?????? not a thing

Leno did not retire. He never probably ever plans to retire. He was coerced into leaving to make room for Conan. If he didn't leave NBC, he would have been on ABC or somewhere else. He should have done that or never listened to the 10pm idea from NBC execs. So when he is offered the chance to return to where he dominated successfully for 17 years after the Tonight franchise has been damaged by Howdy Doody perhaps irreparably, he's supposed to say no???

Incidentally, he has not yet accepted the Tonight Show. Maybe he'll leave too but NBC still doesn't like Conan, just like most of America.

Lilly says more Americans are going to bed earlier because there is no job in the morning. Genius!

I would love to see the masturbating bear return before Conan exits stage right! NBC should be ashamed.

What does Ebersol know? He only was the producer of SNL that launched the film careers of Eddie Murphy, Billy Crystal, Martin Short and Christopher Guest and the tv career of Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

If the NBC execs truly think Conan is to blame...then why did they originally try to keep him (before Conan bowed out on his own) and why not willingly release him from his contract if he is something they don't want? Doesn't make much sense if you think about it. NBC screwed up...again.

Jay Leno should also bow out...he was going to retire anyway (that's what started this mess).

Then NBC should offer the Tonight show to Letterman finally. And Conan could move over to the Late Show on CBS.

BUT, Dick knows who "You're So Vain" is about, so I gotta give him props there.

Who cares what Dick Ebersol thinks anyway? This is the same moron who thought it was a great idea for NBC to pay millions of dollars to air Notre Dame football games. He also thought Americans loved watching NHL games, and would watch Arena Football games just as much as they watched NFL games.

The only reason Dick Ebersol has a job is because he was smart enough to get NBC to secure the rights to the Olympics.

Dick Eberson's comments fail to convince me Conan is anything but classy and talented.
The man is extremely talented, and I think it's 'lame' that Ebersol is resorting to "he's just 'stubborn'. Did he ever ask Leno to change something he did (for whatever reason) and how able was he to morph into perfectness? Your point misses the mark Ebersol. Maybe, the ratings have nothing to do with Conans main appeal to a younger audience...maybe Americans are just getting more sleep, since so many of us are unemployed! Sadly,nobody is winning in this thing, but what won't change, is Conan's skill and wit,and man, doesn't America need 'that' right now...?

Dick Eberson's comments fail to convince me Conan is anything but classy and talented.
The man is extremely talented, and I think it's 'lame' that Ebersol is resorting to "he's just 'stubborn'. Did he ever ask Leno to change something he did (for whatever reason) and how able was he to morph into perfectness? Your point misses the mark Ebersol. Maybe, the ratings have nothing to do with Conans main appeal to a younger audience...maybe Americans are just getting more sleep, since so many of us are unemployed! Sadly,nobody is winning in this thing, but what won't change, is Conan's skill and wit,and man, doesn't America need 'that' right now...?

Ebersol's and idiot. This is the same guy who canned Norm MacDonald from SNL for "not being funny," then brings hom back the next year to host.

If he brought out masturbating bear, the tools at NBC would just edit it out.

"JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE" RE-AIRS KIMMEL APPEARING AS LENO EPISODE THIS MONDAY, JANUARY 18 ON ABC

>> Maybe there's hope yet for a "Tonight Show" appearance by the Masturbating Bear.

Final night!

Helluva nice exclusive! Awesome!

I was just telling a friend at work the nipple twisting never gets old for me. He's been doing it for 17 years and I laugh every night I see him do it and if i tune in late and miss it I am bummed. Simple things liek that make me laugh, what can I say. Or maybe it's just Conan being funny and silly that's so endearing and relatably funny.

NEW COMMENT

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <i> <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <img> <p>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options