In The Hollywood Reporter's cover story on Conan O'Brien, the TBS host admitted that he would rather move forward in life rather than look back at the 2010 "Tonight Show" controversy. And part of that is coming to terms with the fact that any energy spent thinking about Jay Leno is a waste.
"The odds are we will both leave this Earth without speaking to each other, which is fine," O'Brien tells THR. "There's really nothing to say. We both know the deal. He knows; I know. I'd rather just forget."
Of course, he does take some small amount of glee in the fact that nearly every NBC executive involved with the blunder has since exited the company. "It helps that almost everybody involved in the craziness has been relieved of their jobs," he said.
When O'Brien left NBC, part of his exit agreement included a non-disparagement clause. Since such a gag order would be difficult to enforce, O'Brien's measured words about Leno and NBC are more likely a personal choice.
The article paints a portrait not of the scorned O'Brien seen in the documentary "Conan O'Brien Can't Stop," but rather a fully bounced-back comedian succeeding not just on his new network, but in the new media landscape. His show may not get the most total viewers (it's roundly beaten by "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report"), but it does have the youngest viewers. When Will Ferrell needed a place to formally announce "Anchorman 2," he went straight to his old pal O'Brien.
His recent interview on David Letterman's show seemed to indicate the same willingness to put everything behind him and focus on the future, resisting many of Dave's nudges to talk at length about Leno.
O'Brien's online home, Team Coco, presents an elegant alternative to watching "Conan" on television -- and more importantly, it's something no network can take from him. And don't think that watching the show on an iPad or the next morning will hurt the show. When asked by Piers Morgan last week at Boston's 2012 Cable Show if he cares what screen audiences watch him on, O'Brien replied "no, not in the least."
Additionally, his production company Conaco (which owns the rights to "Conan," not TBS) are working on no less than six new shows. One of them, "Deon Cole's Black Box," stars "Tonight Show" and "Conan" writer-personality Cole as the host of a "The Soup" style clip show. Highlights from the show were seen at TBS's upfront last week, where O'Brien also performed.
Perhaps most interestingly is that Conaco is developing a "a soon-to-be-announced late-night show for the midnight slot following 'Conan.'" Since "Lopez Tonight!" was canceled earlier this year, that slot has been filled by various reruns. According to The Wrap, TBS has also ordered a pilot presentation of a Norm Macdonald talk show, which could compete for the same spot.
To read the whole article on Conan, click over to THR.
Like Conan, Mulaney has made a name for himself as a writer for "Saturday Night Live," perhaps most memorably co-creating Stefon. He also happens to be one of the funniest working stand-up comedians in the country right now. If given a late night talk show, the fresh-faced 29 year old Mulaney could give Jimmy Fallon a run for his money.
Hey, why not? Stephen Colbert was a correspondent on "The Daily Show" for years before getting his own show, and Andy has proven himself to be Conan's second brain since 1993 (off and on), as well as one of the quickest minds in the business in his own right. As much as we love Richter as a sidekick, we would welcome an Andy Richter helmed talk show.
When Ed Schultz took a forced breather from his MSNBC show after calling Laura Ingraham a "slut," some suggested that "Daily Show" co-creator and comedian Lizz Winstead would be a good replacement should Schultz not return. But we think limiting her to just funny, politicized rants against the right -- which she's great at -- would be a waste of her full-range of talents. As a late night host, Lizz's complete arsenal of comedic tricks would really shine.
Everyone who saw Conan's post-NBC, pre-TBS tour -- as well as comedy nerds all over the country -- is already a fan of Reggie Watts' absurdist wit. If TBS wants to take a chance on the kind of talk show that no one has had the nerve to try before, Reggie would be their guy. Plus, he's both host and house band in one. We think America is ready.
The quick-witted Jimmy Pardo, known as the host of the popular podcast "Never Not Funny," has worked as the opening act for Conan both on "The Tonight Show" and on O'Brien's TBS program and also hosts "Pardo Patrol" on TeamCoco.com. Pardo's proven conversational ability and his close association with Conan would make him a natural pick to follow Conan at midnight.
Marc Maron goes way back with Conan, appearing on "Late Night" more than any other guest. Now that he's hit a career peak of his own, thanks to his remarkable "WTF" podcast, maybe it's time for Maron to take his truly honest comedy interview stylings to nightly television. How about it, Conan? A late night talk show filmed in Maron's garage? We're on board.
On her great podcast "How Was Your Week," comedian Julie Klausner conducts candid and lively chats with authors, comedians, actors and anyone else she finds interesting. Such natural dialogue is rarely found on late night talk shows, but Klausner would bring the coziness of Oprah and the charm of Ferguson to TBS. Plus, Conan would surely appreciate a fellow redhead to follow him.
Michael Ian Black
Despite describing himself as "TV AIDS" in a recent interview with The A.V. Club, a nod to the unfortunate pattern of shortsighted TV networks canceling his projects, Black has been extremely funny on television since "The State" premiered on MTV in 1993. He was even a close finalist to host "The Late Late Show" before Craig Ferguson won the job. Black's tongue-in-cheek wit and experience as a host, sketch performer, stand-up comedian and writer make him an ideal candidate to helm a talk show. Plus, as one of the founders of the comedy Twitter site <a href="http://Witstream.com" target="_hplink">Witstream</a>, his web presence could match that of TeamCoco.com.
Kevin Smith has made it clear that he's ready to move from the director's chair to a talk show host's. He's already a podcast impresario of sorts and he even recently shot a pilot for a potential half-hour syndicated chat show (on the Warner Brothers lot, where Conan shoots his show, natch). But why not go all the way and throw his hat in the ring for a full late night hour? Sure, the censors will have to work overtime on the bleep button, but he's guaranteed to do something interesting.
Only getting the occasional five minutes with John Oliver as a correspondent on "The Daily Show" is simply no longer enough. Oliver's quick wit and high brow silliness would make him an excellent late night host, as well as a good pairing with Conan.
Paul F. Tompkins
Every late night host needs to look good in a suit, and Paul F. Tompkins has been doing that for years. On top of that, he's already got hosting chops (on "Best Week Ever"), is extremely well-respected in the comedy world, and his easy charm would make him as a big a hit with the rest of America as he already is with the comedy faithful.
New York mainstay Chris Gethard made national headlines when he convinced Diddy -- yes, <em>that</em> Diddy -- to appear on his live talk show at the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York in January. If the affable Gethard can convince one of the most famous rappers ever to come to an underground comedy club just by bothering him on Twitter, there's no limit to what he could pull off in front of a national audience.
Although Amy Schumer is relatively new to comedy compared to many of her peers, she's quickly becoming one of the hottest stand-ups in the country -- edgy, confident, quick-witted and likable. Her proven co-hosting talent on "Hoppus On Music" with Mark Hoppus on Fuse doesn't hurt, either. Schumer can hold her own with the likes of fellow New York comics Jim Norton and Dave Attell, so interviewing the stars of "Glee" should be a breeze.
"Daily Show" correspondent Wyatt Cenac is stepping out into the limelight more and more, with his first comedy special coming out later this month. His understated coolness is instantly engaging, and he has a sort of educated-everyman quality that would make him unique in the more often forcibly goofy late night host field.
Lisa Lampanelli may be known for her "mean" stand-up on Comedy Central roasts, but her filthy schtick wouldn't work if she weren't so damn likable. Always stealing the show any time she appears with other comics, she could be a great counterpoint to Conan's sillier brand of less-pointed barbs.