O'Brien talks up new TBS chat show

By KAREN BUTLER, United Press International  |  May 19, 2010 at 9:12 PM
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NEW YORK, May 19 (UPI) -- U.S. comedian Conan O'Brien Wednesday likened his career trajectory during the past year to the plot twists of the iconic TV mystery series "Lost."

"I love doing comedy at 10 in the morning," O'Brien told reporters and advertisers gathered for the TNT and TBS 2010 Upfront programming presentation.

"I realized this morning, actually, when I woke up that this is my first time back in New York City since I was here exactly one year ago for the NBC Upfront," O'Brien said. "By the way, if anyone in this room could explain exactly what the hell happened four months ago, I'd be thrilled to hear it. I'll be in the lobby afterward. I am all ears. The plot to 'Lost' is more plausible than the last year of my life. It makes more sense."

NBC booted Jay Leno as host of "The Tonight Show" in Los Angeles at the end of last season and gave the position to O'Brien -- then the host of "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" in New York -- to keep O'Brien from moving to another network. NBC then offered Leno a nightly, hourlong 10 p.m. series.

But when the prime time "Jay Leno Show" failed to be a strong lead-in for local news broadcasts, NBC announced it would push Leno's show back to 11:35 p.m., shorten it to 30 minutes and air "Tonight" at 12:05 a.m. However, O'Brien said he would not remain on "Tonight" if it was bumped to 12:05 a.m. and left the network, paving the way for Leno's return as "Tonight" host.

O'Brien last month announced plans to star in a new late-night chat show on TBS in the fall.

"All joking aside, I'm absolutely thrilled to be here today," the funny man said at Wednesday's Upfront event promoting the shows of TBS and TNT.

"(Turner Entertainment Networks President) Steve Koonin's excitement for me and what I do has been nothing short of exhilarating and I want you to know I really believe in basic cable television," O'Brien declared. "I do. I think basic cable is what makes this country great. I do not want to live in a country that has less than six ESPNs. I'm committed to that."

Adopting a more serious tone, O'Brien added: "Steve and his team have a clear vision for their network. They believe in me, I believe in them and I cannot wait to get back to having fun on television again. That's all I want to do."

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