Nikki Finke and her new TV hire at Deadline.com have some details on Conan O’Brien’s new TV show deal at TBS.We hear that Conan O’Brien will own the late night show on TBS, the same way that David Letterman owns his show on CBS (both the Late Show and the Late Late Show). O’Brien’s salary is north of $10M (not including ownership). Read more at Deadline.com >
More perks: TBS is letting him tape the show in LA, and putting huge promotional ad money behind the show.
Why didn’t it happen at Fox?
Fox’s entertainment executives including Peter Rice, Kevin Reilly and even Rupert Murdoch himself were wooing Conan. But convincing Fox’s affiliates to bring on a late night franchise was on the “backburner,” according to some sources.
Fox’s affiliates already paid for syndicated shows like “The Office,” “Seinfeld,” and “Family Guy.” Advertisers also paid for TV spots against those shows — not Conan. With dipping profits, upcoming retransmission fee fights and a crippling economy, affiliates weren’t willing to make the leap. What’s worse, a Conan show on Fox was would likely only get into 60% of U.S. households, according to the Times.
The rest of the country would be reached at later hours, diminishing his chances to hit a big rating – at least initially,” according to the Times. Fox was promising to expand the coverage to full clearance at 11 p.m. in about three years, several parties to the talks said.
But at the Times reports, TBS was much friendlier to Conan. It took just 10 days to make the deal happen.
Conan’s manager Gavin Polone told Bill Carter that TBS agreed to “almost every request.” “We’d come back with complex details and they’d apologise and say they might not be able to get back to us for two hours.”
Conan originally soured to the TBS deal. He didn’t want his fellow late night host George Lopez to get kicked out of his timeslot, like he did at NBC.
TBS’ original late-night host Lopez currently has the 11 p.m. timeslot. When Conan’s people came back to the ousted NBC host with a deal to take his timeslot and push Lopez back to midnight, Conan said, “‘We’re not putting ourselves in the position of shoving somebody out of his show,'” according to Polone.
The deal went caput for a while.
But then Lopez himself made a personal phone call to Conan. “George called Conan to sell Conan on this idea. He was all for it. It really was George who made this happen.”
In all, it took just 10 days to make the TBS deal happen, according to the Times.
Now Conan will have a show airing at 11 p.m. four nights a week starting in November.
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