Home > Vulture News > Conan O’Brien Taking A Page From David Letterman’s Playbook: Talking With Fox But Keeping Options Open

Conan O’Brien Taking A Page From David Letterman’s Playbook: Talking With Fox But Keeping Options Open


Conan O’Brien hasn’t exactly taken to retirement since being kicked out of hosting The Tonight Show in March. In addition to mounting a national comedy tour which will be filmed as a part of a documentary feature film, he’s been busily plotting his next move outside of the prying eyes of the media. It’s easy to imagine that what he’s going through is similar to David Letterman‘s experience in 1992 when his contract ended with NBC. Both Bill Carter‘s non fiction account of the ordeal, The Late Shift and the the 1996 HBO movie version, depicted the late night host sitting through pitches from a long list of network execs and companies offering syndication deals. According to Carter, CAA super agent Mike Ovitz advised Letterman not to sign with Fox, saying:

Fox. It’s 1/4 of a network at best.

The one time “fourth place network” (a spot now occupied by flailing NBC) has evolved  significantly since the early 90s, when it was home to shows like Herman’s Head and Parker Lewis Can’t Lose. For the 2010 version of the talk show melodrama it stands out as a real possibility. Conan has had serious talks with the network, although he is still keeping his options open. A representative told the LA Times:

[Fox] is by no means the only place he’s talking right now.

Fox would be a good choice and Conan would have the stability of being on a major network. That was the prime concern for Letterman and the main reason he went with CBS. The clip below from The Late Shift (starting at the 5 min. mark)  contains the scene in which Letterman sits through pitches from execs trying to woo him to sign a contract. With Carter currently working on a sequel to his 1992 bestselling book, a sequel to the movie should be forthcoming as well. As far as casting goes, Elijah Wood would make a good Conan and they should definitely include Kathy Bates (who won an Emmy playing Jay Leno‘s former manager; the late Helen Kushnick) in the cast. They would need a creative screenwriter to flesh it out.

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