Comedian Conan O’Brien is joining cable television network TBS to host a late-night talk show, expected to start in November, in a surprise move following his bitter departure from NBC’s “The Tonight Show.”
TBS, a division of Time Warner Inc.’s Turner Broadcasting System, said yesterday that O’Brien, who had been in talks with rival Fox for several weeks, began negotiations in earnest with the cable channel just last week.
“Conan has been the comedic voice for a generation. TBS already has a huge audience of young comedy lovers, and Conan’s show will give these fans even more reasons to watch our network,” Steve Koonin, president of Turner Entertainment Networks, said in a statement.
O’Brien was forced to quit “The Tonight Show” in January after just seven months in the job as low viewership brought complaints from NBC affiliates. Under a $45 million exit deal with NBC, O’Brien was barred from launching a new TV show before September.
Instead, the red-haired comedian kicked off a comedy tour yesterday called “Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television.”
“In three months, I’ve gone from network television to Twitter to performing live in theaters, and now I’m headed to basic cable. My plan is working perfectly,” O’Brien joked about the move to TBS, which has fewer overall viewers than broadcast networks NBC, CBS, ABC or Fox.