4 Sale: Barely-Used Late Night Talk Show

FILE**In this file photo, originally released by NBC, "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" star Conan O'Brien listens to the audience Friday, May 12, 2006, in Chicago, where he moved his show for a week. O'Brien has been tapped to host the 58th annual Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles on August 27, 2006. AP Photo/NBC, Dana Edelson

Conan O'Brien's a man of his word. The NBC talk show host - at least for the time being - promised that he would put the "Tonight Show" up for sale on Craigslist and here it is.

Under pressure from its stations, NBC plans to move Jay Leno back to 11:35 PM for a half-hour show from his current 10 PM slot. "Tonight" with O'Brien is averaging 2.5 million nightly viewers, compared with 4.2 for David Letterman's "Late Show," according to Nielsen figures. O'Brien, who has balked at the plan, which would force his show back to 12:05, used the occasion to tweak his bosses and joke with the audience that the highest bidder on Craigslist could have the whole shebang.

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"You may never get a chance like this again," O'Brien said.

In the advertisement, O'Brien bills it as "a chance of a lifetime to own your very own late night talk show--guaranteed to last for up to seven months!! Really must see to appreciate."

Meanwhile, the the chairman of NBC Universal Sports, Dick Ebersol, referring to O'Brien as "an astounding failure" and saying that his jokes about Leno were "chicken-hearted and gutless," according to a post in the Huffington Post. What's more, the New York Times quotes Ebersol calling O'Brien (and Letterman) "chicken-hearted and gutless to blame a guy you couldn't beat in the ratings."

Whatever hard feelings linger apparently is not going to prevent a buyout. According to a report in People Magazine, O'Brien will receive a huge buyout and that his last show on host of the Tonight Show will be next Friday.
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    Charles Cooper is an executive editor at CNET News. He has covered technology and business for more than 25 years, working at CBSNews.com, the Associated Press, Computer & Software News, Computer Shopper, PC Week, and ZDNet. E-mail Charlie.

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