Conan O’Brien, the former host of NBC’s “Tonight Show,” who lost the program to Jay Leno earlier this year, has signed a deal for a new late-night program on TBS. O’Brien’s show will start in November at 11 p.m. George Lopez, the comedian who currently occupies that slot, will have his show move to midnight.
“In three months, I’ve gone from network television to Twitter to performing live in theaters, and now I’m headed to basic cable. My plan is working perfectly,” O’Brien said in a statement.
The deal with TBS is sure to catch many by surprise. Most industry observers expected O’Brien to land at Fox. While Fox’s top entertainment executives Peter Rice and Kevin Reilly were on board with going after O’Brien, persuading Fox’s affiliates to carry the show was going to be more challenging. That’s because those stations make a lot of money from the reruns they currently run at 11 p.m. This was also an issue for the stations owned by Fox itself.