I just heard this story on the radio this morning, so I’ll take it with a grain of salt until I get some sort of confirmation. In any case, word on the street is that NBC is thinking about hiring Jon Stewart from the Daily Show to replace Conan O’Brien. What this would also mean is that Conan will effectively lose his spot as Jay Leno’s successor for The Tonight Show, a post that he was promised a couple of years ago when Craig Kilborn left The Late, Late Show on CBS. I can just envision Donald Trump coming along and giving the “cobra” to Conan: “You’re fired.”
At that time, O’Brien was one of the people being considered to replace Craig Kilborn and the main reason why Conan was interested in the position — it was basically just a side step to go from NBC to CBS, as both Late Night with Conan O’Brien and the The Late, Late Show with Craig Kilborn occupied the 12:35am slot on their respective networks — was that after Conan moved to CBS, he would then have the opportunity to take over the helm at The Late Show when David Letterman decides to step down. At the time, people were saying that Jay Leno wouldn’t retire for a long time and Conan would be stuck in his current position. With CBS, Letterman was more likely to retire sooner, given his health concerns and so forth.
So, where does that leave us today? If NBC does indeed to follow though with a Jon Stewart deal — I’m sure Stewart will be much happier at a major network than at the smaller Comedy Central — then Conan effectively got screwed. The only reason why Conan decided to stay in his current job was because NBC said that he could have The Tonight Show in 2009. I enjoy both Jon Stewart and Conan O’Brien, so I have a hard time deciding who I would rather watch.
The radio deejay suggested that they simply let Leno go now, allowing Jon and Conan to take up the two late night shows on NBC. This doesn’t solve the problem, though, because the issue would arise as to who would get the premium 11:35pm slot and who would be sent to the backburner with the 12:35am time slot.
I personally think that NBC should just stick with their original plan, because they’re just going to come off as total assholes (pardon my French) if they fire Conan and hire Jon. If Stewart wants a spot in a “real” network, maybe he should go solicit CBS and get them to oust Craig Ferguson, because, well, who watches Ferguson? Perhaps Fox or ABC can make a bid, because Jimmy Kimmel isn’t exactly a big draw either.
Are you a late night aficionado? Where do you stand?
Update: I bumbled my way around the interweb and found a lot of sites reporting this news. Looks like it just might be the real deal. Here are a few links: TV Squad, Broadcasting Cable, Perez Hilton, Jossip, and Lost Remote.