Conan O'Brien: Jay Leno Will Not Be Invited on My New Show
Conan O'Brien, whose new late-night talk show debuts Nov. 8 on TBS, said Jay Leno will not be invited as a guest to appear on the show.
"He can come as the musical guest, because that I want to see; no one knows he has an operatic range," O'Brien joked in an interview with Playboy before adding, "No, there are certain things I will not do, regardless of the price."
O'Brien added that he isn't bitter after the Tonight Show debacle at NBC earlier this year, which resulting in him leaving the show after seven months as host and Leno returning to his 11:35 p.m. spot on Tonight. As for the impassioned speech he gave on his final episode, urging viewers not to be "cynical," O'Brien said he made it a point to "end on an optimistic note."
"I thought it could end up being the most important moment of my television career. It still could be," he said. "I have had too many good things happen in my career to end on any kind of bitter note. ... And as crazy as this sounds, my career with NBC was overwhelmingly positive until this."
At the time the shake-up was going down, O'Brien was extremely upset over the whole situation and angry that Leno didn't reach out to him, according to The War for Late Night: When Leno Went Early and Television Went Crazy, a book by New York Times writer Bill Carter that was released Thursday.
In his Playboy interview, O'Brien admitted that he could easily still be harboring resentment about the situation.
"The entertainment business has an amazing way of turning really lucky people into bitter, angry, rage-filled, jealous, resentful wretches who can't believe they got screwed," he said. "Some things have worked out great for me, some things haven't. You keep going."
O'Brien added that doing his last Tonight Show tapings "was a high."
"A lot of people tuned in, and I was really proud of what I was able to make in that situation," he said. "So this was good, this was bad, this was ugly, this was beautiful, this was f-cked-up, this was sublime. It was cherry, it was vanilla, it was frogurt, it was mocha chocolate chip."
As for his new TBS show, Conan, the host said he will end up overthinking it despite knowing that he shouldn't.
"I don't want to get lost thinking how this show will be different from any other show I've done," he said. "At the end of the day, it's going to be me doing whatever is in my power to entertain people for an hour. I'll break any rule. I'll use dangerous chemicals if I have to. I will meddle with the laws of God."
O'Brien told the Associated Press that his new studio will be smaller than the one he used for Tonight Show. The Conan set will seat 250 audience members, compared to more than 300 for Tonight, and O'Brien will stand about a dozen feet away from the audience during his opening monologue.