MANHATTAN — Late-night funnyman Conan O’Brien isn’t laughing at plans to hand his timeslot over to the floundering Jay Leno – and he could be getting ready to walk off NBC, according to published reports.
In a back-and-forth that would make Johnny Carson turn in his grave, NBC is reportedly planning to bounce O’Brien from the “Tonight Show” in February and replace him with Leno — despite making the exact opposite reversal back in June.
Among the plans NBC is considering is splitting the “Tonight Show” slot in half, and giving Leno from 11:35 to just after midnight, while O’Brien reportedly will get bumped back to an hour-long show starting at 12:05 a.m., NBC told the New York Post.
That would mean former Saturday-Night-Live comic Jimmy Fallon’s show pushes back to 1:05 a.m., the paper reported.
But there’s a chance O’Brien could be out the door by then, as he has reportedly been speaking to Fox about a possible new late-night show, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The failed experiment began back in 2008, when NBC decided to put Leno on a 10 p.m. slot, opening the door to his “Tonight Show” replacement. But ratings for “The Jay Leno Show” have been dismal, and competitor David Letterman’s ratings consistently trounce O’Brien, forcing NBC brass to reconsider.
A rep for O’Brien told the Post Conan hasn’t made a decision about his future.