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The longest-tenured host in late night has set an exit date.
Conan O’Brien will end his nightly TBS show June 24, the cabler announced Monday night. It will bring to an end the host’s 28-year run as a late night host, stretching back to 1993 when he took over NBC’s Late Show from David Letterman.
TBS’ parent company, WarnerMedia, said in November 2020 that Conan would end this summer. O’Brien signed a deal with the company at that time, under which he’ll host and produce a weekly variety show for HBO Max and continue making the Conan Without Borders travel specials for TBS.
The final weeks of Conan will feature a lineup of special guests and an hourlong finale June 24 that will include a look back at his 11 years on TBS.
“We are winding down our TBS show,” O’Brien said at the start of Monday’s Conan. “The plan is to reemerge on HBO Max sometime in the near future with I think what will be my fourth iteration of the program. Imagine a cooking show with puppets, and you’ll have the wrong idea.”
He added that “for 11 years, the people at Turner have been absolutely lovely to me,” and that he hopes to take a “fun look back” at his time on TBS in the show’s final weeks. (Watch the full announcement below.)
“Twenty-eight years is a monumental achievement in late night television,” Brett Weitz, general manager of TNT, TBS and TruTV, said in November in announcing the show’s forthcoming end. “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 was the host of Late Night from January 1993 to February 2009, then (briefly) took over as host of The Tonight Show from June 2009 until January 2010. In an effort to keep previous Tonight host Jay Leno in the fold, NBC gave the veteran a nightly primetime show starting in fall 2009. Neither it nor O’Brien’s Tonight Show performed well in the ratings. After initially floating the idea of moving Leno back to late night and bumping The Tonight Show to 12:05 a.m., NBC settled with O’Brien and he departed the network after his final Tonight Show on Jan. 22, 2010. Leno resumed his former post before passing the show to Jimmy Fallon in 2014.
O’Brien then went on a nationwide tour before launching his TBS show in November 2010. The show had an hourlong runtime through 2018, when O’Brien scaled back to 30 minutes a night amid speculation that he would depart TBS. He also launched a podcast, Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend, in 2018.
Following the end of Conan, O’Brien will focus on developing the weekly HBO Max show and other projects. Details on the weekly series are few at the moment, but WarnerMedia says it will “be a departure” from O’Brien’s current talk show format.
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