New York, 18 November 2020 (dpa/MIA) – Conan O’Brien went from the new kid on late-night TV to an institution in his own right — and now he’s moving on.
O’Brien, 57, is ending his longtime late-night talk show on TBS next year to launch a new weekly series on HBO Max, WarnerMedia announced Tuesday.
The award-winning TBS show will conclude at the end of its 10th season in June 2021 while his popular travel specials, “Conan Without Borders,” are set to continue airing on the network.
O’Brien, who had worked as a writer for “The Simpsons” and “Saturday Night Live,” joined the late-night landscape in 1993 when he was a surprise choice to replace David Letterman on “Late Night” as Lettterman bolted for an earlier time slot and a bigger paycheck at CBS.
“In 1993 Johnny Carson gave me the best advice of my career: ‘As soon as possible, get to a streaming platform.’ I’m thrilled that I get to continue doing whatever the hell it is I do on HBO Max, and I look forward to a free subscription,” O’Brien said in a statement.
WarnerMedia, which owns both TBS and HBO, described the new show as a “weekly variety series” but offered no details.
Brett Weitz, general manager for TBS, TNT and truTV, called O’Brien’s 28 years in late-night television “a monumental achievement.”
“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,” he said in the statement. “We celebrate his success and are glad to see it grow across our WarnerMedia family.”
O’Brien initially struggled at “Late Night,” but credited an appearance by Letterman — who famously asked him, “How DID you get this show?” — for helping him find his footing.
After 16 years, he took over “The Tonight Show” from Jay Leno in 2009. That gig only lasted seven months as NBC decided to move Leno back to the slot in a bizarre game of musical chairs that ended with O’Brien leaving the network and taking shots at NBC and Leno on his way out the door.
“Hosting ‘The Tonight Show’ has been the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for me,” he said on one of his final NBC shows, “and I just want to say to the kids out there watching, ‘You can do anything you want life — unless Jay Leno wants to do it too.'”
The popular comedian and four-time Emmy winner, also known as “Coco,” hosts his half-hour talk show four nights a week on TBS, an occasional series of hour-long “Conan Without Borders” specials on the same network as well as a weekly podcast titled “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend.”