TBS late-night show Conan will be cut to a half-hour in January 2019, from its current hour length. Host Conan O’Brien said the move will allow him to focus more on the aspects of the show that excite him, and viewers, while allowing him to cut late-night staples that he’s less enthusiastic about.
“I’ll do much more of what I’m passionate about,” O'Brien said, “and do less of, this is the format I inherited, I need to do more of that because that’s what I inherited in 1993.”
Kevin Reilly, TBS and TNT president, noted that O’Brien is in his 25th year in late night, making him the longest running after-hours host. Yet he has the youngest audience, said Reilly, who called 25 years “an impressive milestone.”
O’Brien said a website will launch in the fall offering videos of his 25 years in the business.
Conan airs Monday-Thursday at 11 p.m. ET/PT. The show is produced by Conaco LLC, with Jeff Ross the executive producer.
O’Brien spoke frequently about “Conan Without Borders,” which has seen him venture to Haiti, Israel, Italy and other locales, and find comedy within those borders. He called the “Conan Without Borders” specials “one of the catalysts” for cutting the show’s length. He said it’s something “I want to double down and triple down on. It really opened my eyes to what’s possible.”
O’Brien envisions more comedy in the shorter show, with likely a lone celeb interview per program. The shorter length will allow him to focus more on digital segments, with Team Coco playing a bigger part in the show’s output.
“We’ll never be out there filling time in any way,” he said.
Starting in late 2018, O’Brien and a team of comics will hit the road on a tour hosted by O’Brien himself.
TBS has not revealed what it will do with the 11:30-12 slot when it opens up in January. O’Brien had a couple suggestions: his show, only with him wearing a fake mustache, or an analysis of the 11 p.m. show that just ended, called Navel Gazing with Conan O’Brien.
The show will still shoot in Los Angeles. The set will likely change.
“Conan has always been a fearless performer and now, at the top of his form, I’m excited he’s taking a gutsy step forward with us into new arenas,” said Reilly.
O’Brien said the half-hour Conan will evolve over time. “If I’m somewhere, shooting a remote with somebody and it takes off, that can be the entire show,” he said. “The show can be whatever we think is the best program that night.”
Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.
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