Conan Trades Up to Tonight But Can't Shake Leno

As 'Late Night' winds down, the landscape of network television moves as well
By Clay Dillow,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 19, 2009 12:18 PM CST
In this photo released by NBC, host Conan O'Brien reacts as and Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. feigns dozing off as a joke about his age.   (AP Photo/NBC, Dana Edelson)
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(Newser) – As Conan O'Brien gets ready to move from Late Night to the Tonight Show—tomorrow is his last post-midnight show before he decamps for LA—the value of the coveted 11pm slot has been seriously undercut. With current Tonight host Jay Leno heading not into the sunset but into the 10pm slot, O’Brien finds himself still Leno’s follow-up and, observers say, sandbagged by his own network. 

He'll be competing with Leno for guests and prominence, observers say, and with his Late Night ratings down this year, will be seen as vulnerable. But O’Brien, who turned down offers from ABC and Fox to stay with NBC, doesn’t acknowledge annoyance with  the move. “I took some time before I went to my producer and said: ‘In this scenario I’m still hosting that show that Johnny Carson had that I watched with my father in my living room, right?’ And he said, ‘Yes, you are.’ And I said, ‘Then I’m good.’”