WarnerMedia, long-time partners of comedian and late night host Conan O’Brien (Conan, Late Night with Conan O’Brien), announced, in a press release on Tuesday, that the TBS talk show Conan will officially come to an end in June 2021. According to Vulture, O’Brien’s weekly late night show had been recently reworked into a half-hour format and renewed at TBS through 2022. However, O’Brien will now transition into a job as variety show host in his own HBO Max series in 2021, rather than continuing his decade plus run at Conan.
Conan O’Brien will end #Conan on TBS next June. O’Brien has also signed a deal with HBO Max for a new weekly variety series, though no premiere date has been set https://t.co/UGcPU5U8b8 pic.twitter.com/YifhRnA1JZ
— Variety (@Variety) November 17, 2020
Conan forged a home at TBS in 2010 after its host’s contentious departure from network television in the wake of late night tension over The Tonight Show at NBC. After hosting Late Night with Conan O’Brien from 1993 to 2009, O’Brien was slated to pre-emptively take over The Tonight Show from Jay Leno (The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Jay Leno’s Garage). O’Brien only held the gig for a few months as a result of turmoil at NBC, a conflict detailed in Bill Carter’s The War for Late Night: Why Leno Went Early and Why Television Went Crazy.
In spite of 2010’s network fallout, O’Brien has forged a 28-year legacy as a late night host between Late Night with Conan O’Brien, The Tonight Show and Conan. “28 years is a monumental achievement in late-night television,” General Manager of TNT, TBS and truTV, Brett Weitz, states in WarnerMedia’s press release. Weitz shares his excitement for O’Brien’s ongoing partnership with WarnerMedia that is to continue in his 2021 variety series at HBO Max.
O’Brien is not making a full-departure from TBS, as the travel series Conan Without Borders will continue its run on the network. However, an end of Conan will leave Full Frontal with Samantha Bee as the only late night show remaining on the network, according to Variety.
“I’m thrilled that I get to continue doing whatever the hell it is I do on HBO Max, and I look forward to a free subscription,” O’Brien quipped in a statement issued by WarnerMedia, as details of his 2021 variety show are yet to be revealed. The comedian continued to joke about his move to HBO Max: “In 1993 Johnny Carson gave me the best advice of my career: ‘As soon as possible, get to a streaming platform’” (Warner Media).
Though the subject of O’Brien’s joke, Johnny Carson (The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson), passed away in 2005, two years before Netflix introduced streaming to its subscribers, he dispensed particularly wise fictional advice to the host. In fact, Variety reports that “news of the end of Conan on TBS comes as the cable industry faces increasingly stiff competition from streaming services.”
The details of what O’Brien is bringing to HBO Max, aside from a variety show, are still unknown but the network’s Chief Content Officer, Casey Bloys says “we can’t wait to see what he and the rest of Team Coco will dream up for this brand new, variety format each week” (WarnerMedia).