TNT has announced that the Christmas in Washington special will be hosted by Conan O'Brien. Speaking of Conan, NBC executive producer Jeff Zucker met with Leno and O'Brien on January 7, 2010 to discuss how to move Leno out of primetime, where his ratings were low, and back into latetime, where O'Brien was also it had a limited audience.
The proposal was to move the Tonight Show to 12:05 pm to insert a 30-minute show hosted by Leno at 11:35 pm. On January 10, Jeff Gaspin, president of NBC Universal Television Entertainment officially confirmed the time shift of The Jay Leno Show.
Disagreeing with this decision, on January 12, O'Brien resigned as host of the show after only seven months of taking office, receiving a severance pay of 45 million dollars, 12 of which went to the staff. "I sincerely believe that delaying The Tonight Show until the following day to accommodate another comedy schedule will seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in US television history.
The Tonight Show at 12:05 is simply not The Tonight Show." The last episode of the Tonight Show with Conan aired on January 22, 2010, and the guests in the studio were Tom Hanks, Steve Carell, who in a sketch destroyed the NBC badge of Conan, Neil Young, and Will Ferrell.
Jay Leno then returned to conducting the Tonight Show, due to Conan's resignation, and was much criticized for this choice considered opportunist and unfair towards his colleague. After conducting a tour of 30 US cities, on April 12, 2010 his return to television was announced on the TBS cable channel with the show of the same name Conan.
Conan O'Brien was raised in an Irish Catholic family with six siblings in the Brookline, Boston suburb. His father Thomas is a physician at Brigham and Womens' Hospital and an associate professor at Harvard University, while his mother Ruth Reardon O'Brien is a former lawyer who practiced at Ropes & Gray in Boston until 1997.
On January 12, 2002, O'Brien married publicist Liza Powel in Seattle. The couple have two children, Neve, born October 14, 2003 in New York and Beckett, born November 9, 2005 in New York. After earning magna cum laude degrees in history and literature from Harvard University and a fellowship with the Harvard Lampoon, he wrote for several comedy shows in Los Angeles before being hired in January 1988 as a writer on Saturday Night Live.
In 1991, he co-wrote The Simpsons, one of the most popular animated sitcoms in television history. From 1991 to 1993, O'Brien was a writer and producer of The Simpsons. When he first came to Fox, he was temporarily assigned what had been Jeff Martin's office.
Conan was nervous and intimidated, thinking of making a bad impression in front of a valid and tested group of authors like that of the series.
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