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What's in a Name...or a Chair?

Conan O’Brien has settled on a moniker for his anticipated TBS late night entry. After teasing the, let’s face it, somewhat anti-climactic announcement Tuesday on Twitter (”I was going to announce the name of my new show today, but my lawyers tell me The Return of Nanny McPhee is taken. Tune in tomorrow.”), the late-night comedian revealed the name of his new show via YouTube Wednesday morning.

“For months I’ve been bombarded with calls from the media demanding to know the name of my new show,” he says in the video. “I’ve spent millions of dollars, I’ve [hired] media research companies, we’ve had thousands of people working around the clock….and bang! There it is: Conan! Simple, pure; like the man himself.”

A component of O’Brien’s exit deal with NBC was the right to use his name in the title of a new show. But O’Brien’s team also had to hammer out trademark issues with Conan Properties International, the company behind the Conan the Barbarian franchise, which also owns the URL

Conan will bow Nov. 8 at 11 p.m. originating from Stage 15 at Warner Bros. Studios.

And now that legalities around the name have been settled, the production team is getting down to business designing the show’s set. John Shaffner - the Television Academy president and an Emmy winning set designer who has created sets for Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory, The Ellen DeGeneres Show and O’Brien’s Tonight Show - is also designing the set for Conan.

Shaffner says the new set will have a theatrical theme inspired by O’Brien’s Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television tour. And he’s very excited about a major furniture acquisition: the guest chair. To those viewers uninitiated in the essential particulars of TV set furniture, the chair a talk show guest sits in when they engage in good natured banter with their host may not seem terribly significant. But it is actually the focal point of a set, and as such is of the utmost importance.

“They don’t really make talk show chairs,” explains Shaffner.

Channeling Godilocks, he adds, “They have to be just so high, just so firm and just so deep.”

Once the chair is selected, it has to be customized.

“You find one that you like and then you build it yourself to make it a little shallower and a little more upright and the cushion a little firmer,” he says. “But not too firm or every time the guest sits down they’ll say, ‘Oooh this is a hard chair.’”

Shaffner confirmed that O’Brien will indeed sit behind a desk. (”He’s a pretty classic guy.”) And in keeping with late-night tradition, the guest chair will have a sofa next to it. O’Brien’s chair will be an ergonomically designed, rolling desk chair that’s easily maneuvered so he can get in and out of it when he stands to greet his guests.

“Since he’s usually sitting in it, you don’t see it, so it’s not so much of a design statement,” says Shaffner, “whereas the chair that the guest sits in, the shape of the arms, the shape of legs, will it allow them to turn sideways, will they sit forward, they won’t droop in it - all of that needs to be taken into account.”

Who knew?