Conan O’Brien is making a life change. After a decade hosting the TBS nightly talk show “Conan,” O’Brien and WarnerMedia have announced they are extending their partnership by giving the host his own series on HBO Max.
Not much is currently known about what the new series will look like, though it is being described as a weekly variety show. “Conan” will conclude on TBS in 2021 while his travel special, “Conan Without Borders,” which started in 2018, will continue.
“In 1993 Johnny Carson gave me the best advice of my career: ‘As soon as possible, get to a streaming platform.’ 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 said in a prepared statement.
“Conan’s unique brand of energetic, relatable, and at times, absurdist, comedy has charmed late-night audiences for nearly three decades. 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,” said Casey Bloys, Chief Content Officer for HBO and HBO Max.
The variety show element is certainly a question mark here. O’Brien did start his writing career working for “Saturday Night Live” in 1987, and while he has incorporated sketches into his late-night programming, a variety show is a whole different animal. It’s a format that is gaining traction in the streaming world; Peacock debuted “The Amber Ruffin Show” earlier this year, which does boast a variety show format — more so because coronavirus has prohibited the inclusion of guests.
O’Brien has been a television host for going on 28 years with his popular late-night series “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” running on NBC from 1993 to 2009. In 2009, O’Brien was selected as the replacement for the outgoing Jay Leno from the helm of “The Tonight Show.” Unfortunately, low ratings and a desire to give Leno a separate primetime show before “The Tonight Show” lead to O’Brien making a contentious exit from the series, and NBC in general. He would return, to TBS, with “Conan” the next year.
“28 years is a monumental achievement in late-night television,” said Brett Weitz, General Manager for TNT, TBS and truTV. “We’re incredibly proud of the groundbreaking work that Conan and his team have accomplished during the 10 years at TBS and are so glad that we will continue to have his presence on our air with the ‘Conan Without Borders’ specials. We celebrate his success and are glad to see it grow across our WarnerMedia family.”
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