"How can a television show be worth all this embarrassment?" is a line from the amazing Late Shift (Thank you, Amelie Gillette). Did not see this one coming. From the AP via The Merc:
Conan O'Brien is headed to TBS to host a late-night talk show expected to debut in November.
The network said Monday that the program will air Mondays through Thursdays at 11 p.m. Eastern, shifting TBS' "Lopez Tonight," starring George Lopez, to midnight.
Monday's surprise announcement comes the same day O'Brien starts a two-month, 30-city live tour in Eugene, Ore., amid persistent reports that he was likely to claim Fox as his new late-night home.
In retrospect, Jay Leno's 10 PM show showing might have turned off Fox affiliates on the idea of Coco. From LATimes blog:
While Fox's top entertainment executives Peter Rice and Kevin Reilly were on board with going after O'Brien, persuading Fox's affiliates to carry the show was going to be more challenging. That's because those stations make a lot of money from the reruns they currently run at 11 p.m. This was also an issue for the stations owned by Fox itself.
The talks with TBS heated up in the last two weeks. As recently as a month ago, Turner executives had indicated they had little interest in going after O'Brien. Lopez has given them some solid numbers with younger viewers and is a contrast to Comedy Central's late-night duo of Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert.
But in the last few weeks, Turner's entertainment chief Steve Koonin changed his mind and started negotiating with O'Brien to come to the cable channel. O'Brien was game but did not want to go without Lopez being on board with the idea.
Turner executives huddled with Lopez and Warner Bros.' Telepictures Productions, which makes the show, and got the go-ahead.
"I can't think of anything better than doing my show with Conan as my lead-in," Lopez said. "It's the beginning of a new era in late-night comedy."