When Conan O’Brien left NBC last year after the network attempted to push back his show to make room for Jay Leno’s, it was a public relations fiasco for the network of epic proportions.
NBC was probably counting on Conan’s separation agreement, which prohibited him from making disparaging comments about NBC Studios, Jay Leno, Jeff Zucker and a few other NBC executives, as well as performing a show on another network for eight months, to cool the flames.
But it didn’t quite turn out that way. As Conan recently told Fortune Magazine in an interview, “all the legal prohibitions were coming from people in the old media. They were saying you can’t do all these things, and pretty quickly we realised, ‘Wait a minute!’ Someone said, ‘Does that include Twitter? No. It doesn’t include Twitter.’ And so I started tweeting.”
Within 24 hours of Conan’s first tweet (which, incidentally, was: Today I interviewed a squirrel in my backyard and then threw to commercial. Somebody help me), Conan was up to 250,000 followers — the single day record for gathering followers on Twitter.
Just as quickly, O’Brien’s team began to hear that NBC was not thrilled. “The network isn’t crazy about you tweeting. They’re not sure that’s cool,” Conan recalled hearing.
His response: “Tell them I would be thrilled if they shut down my Twitter account. I’d love it if that got out. You think PR’s been bad up till now? Wait till you take away my Twitter account.”
It seems like there are still some pretty hard feelings between Conan and his old network. He’s said before he won’t speak to Jay Leno, and in his Fortune interview, he even made a loose Nazi reference (better hope Jon Stewart doesn’t find out): “You know that scene in the first Indiana Jones movie where he gets thrown through the truck windshield by a Nazi? I was thrown through the windshield of broadcasting,” he described.
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