Conan O'Brien on '60 Minutes': Good move for the talk-show host?

On Friday, after reading a barrage of quotes from Conan O’Brien’s upcoming 60 Minutes interview, I began to worry our favorite quirky late-night talk show host might be painted as a victim following the segment. But it’s all about delivery, folks — what looked like victimization on paper actually turned out to be an honest conversation about a tough situation on television. In other words, my fears melted away upon actually watching O’Brien talk to Steve Kroft last night. Like my colleague Dan Snierson so eloquently put it, O’Brien came off as vulnerable, but still didn’t abandon that trademark wit that has attracted audiences to him since day 1. He was frank, but also fervent in his claim that he’ll be okay — even if he seemed to be missing a twinkle in his eye. (Who else felt like giving him a hug after the segment?)

But now we want to know what you thought of the interview, PopWatchers. Do you think it was a good idea for O’Brien to share his side of the story on 60 Minutes? Vote in our poll below!


More Conan on ’60 Minutes’:
Conan O’Brien is vulnerable — but still funny –on ’60 Minutes’
Conan O’Brien on ’60 Minutes’: Will too much NBC-Leno talk turn him into a victim?

Comments (347 total) Add your comment
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  • mary

    I miss Conan, but I’m glad he did this interview.

    • freeddie

      I miss Conan can’t wait to see him do comedy again.
      Coco is a bad ass! :-P.

      • freeddie

        HEMET CALIFORNIA

    • youtwitface

    • youtwitface

      Leno fans should know that Carson never backed Leno. Carson back Letterman as his successor.

      • Sharon

        It wasn’t up to Carson. NBC owned and still owns The Tonight Show. Carson had no say in who took over. As good a job as Carson did, he was still just an NBC employee. Just like in any other job when an employee retires, the company decides who, if anyone, replaces that employee. The retiring employee can give their opinion, but it really isn’t their decision. Letterman SHOULD have “been promoted” and given the job, but NBC wanted its cake and to eat it too. But, NBC underestimated Dave. Dave did the right thing and went elsewhere, just like ANY employee who feels they were robbed of a job they felt they deserved and had worked for. But, Jay cannot be blamed for taking a job that was offered to him, especially one so high profile and a job ANY comedian in their right mind would want. And if DAVE had been any kind of friend, he wouldn’t have expected Jay to turn it down just because NBC wouldn’t give the job to Dave.

      • Ron

        No one will ever be able to replace Carson, the last class act on TV.

      • me

        You’re right: Carson Daly rules!

      • Moses Supposes His Toses Are Roses

        Which is why Leno shouldn’t be bearing all the blame in this. Even if he turned down the offer to return to the Tonight Show, that would not change the fact that The Tonight Show With Conan O’Brien had low ratings, and NBC needed to do anything to alleviate that. NBC is responsible for the whole debacle since it is THEIR show, not Jay’s. Jay doesn’t have a say in Conan’s fate. They didn’t even tell him to leave the show, they asked him to push it back half an hour, and Conan chose to instead leave. I don’t understand why people don’t turn their anger to the real villains in this, which are Dick Ebersol and Jeff Zucker. Jay is too easy of a target to pick on.

      • Colleen

        You should read “The Late Shift” by Bill Carter written in the 90′s about the Leno/Letterman issues regarding who was going to get the Tonight Show. Leno was a real jerk back then too, along with his b***h of a manager, Helen Kusknick, who is now deceased. She was in the middle of the mess, having a contract signed by Leno ahead of time in secrecy and Leno hid in a closet to overhear what was happening in meetings. He was a real jerk then and he is a bigger jerk now. Letterman got screwed then, but showed NBC how stupid they were. Conan will prove NBC wrong when his new show starts up in November. The ratings issue was never Conan’s, it was Jay’s ratings on his lame 10 PM show that caused low ratings for local news. People switched channels so they didn’t have to watch Leno, and by doing so, missed Conan. NBC never gave Conan a chance. They kissed Leno’s a** because they owed him too much money. Can’t wait until November. NBC is the loser, TBS is the winner. Go Coco!!!!

      • OopsyDaisy

        Give me a BREAK!
        Are we all in high school? Is this another Team Aniston vs Team Jolie war? No need to defend Conan or Jay. They both got tons of money. None of them was victimized. They are both winners. Please feel sorry for ordinary people like you and me who is either on the verge of losing their jobs or houses, or BOTH!

      • Peggy

        That’s because Johnny Carson had integrity and new that David Letterman deserved to host The Tonight Show, and so did Conan. Jay said he didn’t want his replacement to become a battle which is why he agreed to pass the show to Conan. Now we know he only agreed to do it because he thought he was moving on to something better. When that didn’t happen, he wanted the Tonight Show back. And he set up Conan to fail by putting the exact same type of show right in front of the Tonight Show. That’s why Conan’s rating went down and why Leno’s show failed. They split the viewers in half. I can’t wait to see Conan’s new show on TBS!

      • Jonathan

        I like turtles!

      • torrerro

        Sharon is right on the money. Nothing else needs to be added to her comments.

    • Bear

      I don’t miss Conan… neither does most of the country as evidenced by his last place finish when he had the tonight show. Glad that he found employment with TBS so soon though. $30 mil is such a pittance, he must have already started food stamps by now.

      • Caleb J

        conan’s ratings from the first 7 weeks and leno’s ratings from the first 7 weeks since he came back are about the same. Both started big the first week and swiftly declined to about 2 million. Only Conan had failing 10pm Jay as a lead in and Jay does NOT have failing 10pm Jay as a lead in (law and order… etc)

      • Bubbles

        Meow!

  • Joyce Wahr

    He got $30 M. He lost his job because he wasn’t doing a great job of it. Tons of people get fired when they can’t do the job the way the boss wants, and most of us get nothing but angst and sorrow. Quit whining, Conan! It doesn’t look good on you.

    • mbook

      Everyone knows that’s not why he’s no longer hosting the Tonight Show. Stop revising history. Conan’s severance payout was lower than Leno’s, so they pushed Conan out instead of Leno. Everyone knows this.

      • Steve

        @mbook:
        Leno fans live in denial.
        It’s futile to try to reason with them, as facts are unimportant to them.
        They may know “this,” but they will never admit to knowing it due to their blind allegiance to Leno and irrational hatred of Conan.

      • Dave

        Umm… Leno at 1130 and Conan at 1230 was ratings gold for both. They made a move, and both tanked. They wanted to go back to how things were, and Conan pitched a fit and refused. So what other explination is there? You have some crazy conspiracy theory, all-wise Conan supporter?

      • kmac

        actually they didn’t want to go back to the way things were, because the tonight show was always at 11:30. if they moved it to 12:30, it would have technically been the next day, so it might as well be called the tomorrow show. that’s the reason conan wasn’t interested in doing this. i think the best thing would have been for both of them to stay where they were with both of their shows.

      • airplanejim

        mbook, Conehead was last in ratings in the Tonight Show time slot. He was fired because he didn’t produce, plane and simple. And for this he got $30million! The big cry baby! Go home to mom, Conehead, she will hug you.

      • steve

        I wish Conan would have taken the 12AM Tonight Show offer. Give Jay the silly half hour show at 11:30. I would never watch that show though. I would watch Dave’s opening monologue, then switched over to Conan for his monologue and finally switch to Craig for his monolouge. It woulda been pretty nice.

    • ann

      Ditto mbook! He’s just a whiner and
      fails to take any responsibility for his role in all of this. Conan’s a problem child-of his own making.

      • youtwitface

    • Andy

      Exactly what I thought! 30 million to get fired, cry me a river!

      • Jason

        some people have professional pride to think of

      • Brian

        Andy, money isn’t everything.

      • anna

        NBC broke a contract. of course they had to pay money b/c of it. that’s the way contracts work idiot.

      • OopsyDaisy

        I hated it when people keep on saying it’s not about MONEY! Get real! Everything is about money. If it’s not about money, NBC should not have to pay Jay to take back the show. And Conan should bash NBC and Jay non-stop and pay no attention to the gag order.

    • Renee

      I agree completely. I am not a fan of Leno but I thought that Conan looked like a whiner on 60 minutes. I still won’t watch Leno, but now I would be less likely to watch Conan’s new show.

    • Cindy

      excuse me., you must never have been fired from a job you loved. I thought he came across as sincere and not whiney or a cry-baby. It is hurtful and needs to be addressed, now if he would continue to pout once his new show is on then maybe enough is enough. I will never…watch Leno, don’t like the man EVER, and he isn’t entitled to breeze back into the tonight show without some reaction from the Man is ousted.

      • Renee

        Oh, I don’t question that he has a right to be upset and unhappy and I don’t even mind if he says so. What is annoying me is that he won’t let it go – at least in public. There are people in this country that are trying to make ends meet after losing a job. Often they can’t feed their kids or stay in their homes. I have sympathy for Conan, but enough is enough – I have more pressing problems to deal with.

    • sally

      Totally agree with this. Quit the whining and acting like a crybaby. You started the whole thing in case you’ve forgotten when you gave NBC the ultimatum of not re-signing if you didn’t get the Tonight Show. You didn’t bring in the ratings. I wish if I got fired I would get a 30 million dollar payout. Your acting like a crybaby. Move on.

      • Brian

        Wrong.

      • dualienoted

        You’re exactly right. Leno didn’t steal Conan’s job–Conan stole his! This crybaby demanded Leno’s job, and only failed to keep it because he was a disaster in the ratings, and now refuses to accept responsibility for his failure.

        If Leno hadn’t accepted the offer to get his old job back, Conan wouldn’t have kept it anyway. NBC would still have canned him, they just would have handed the job to somebody new. There is no ‘loyalty’ in television–it’s a cut throat business in which low ratings means cancellation, no matter who you are or what you think the network owes you. O’Brien knows this full well but is too childish to admit it.

      • MarySueBob

        That’s right, just keep rewriting history. It’s OK – anyone with half a brain knows what happened and is just fine getting a laugh at how retarded you sound.

      • Matt

        This just shows a poor understanding of how ratings work. Conan’s bad ratings started with Jay Leno’s atrocious performance in the 10pm slot. Fact is, if *Leno* had done better, none of this would have happened. At least when Leno took over the show, he had the advantage of a decent prime-time lineup to piggyback on. Conan’s ratings were handicapped by bad programming and bad execution by Zucker and Leno.

    • Jack

      Uhh…wrong. Leno never went away. He put everyone to sleep at 10 oclock. In case you forgot.

      • Ted

        Leno’s show tanked at 10 cause no one wants to watch a talk show at that hour. Conan had the prime slot at 1135 and he tanked because he cant pull in an audience due to him sucking. Can’t you put 2 and 2 together?

      • Jeff

        WRONG – Conan got a lame lead-in from Leno. He never had a chance with Leno tanking the 10:00 time slot. Even the local news shows at 11:00 were complaining about Leno.

      • Ted

        He tanked because he sucks. People are ready to watch a talk show at 1130 but he aint it. The news? People watch the news at 11! What the hell does it matter whether a show on at 10 is to their liking or not?

      • SKR

        It matters whats on at 10 because people dont change the channel, they watch whatever news comes on after the 10pm show. Then as they drift off to sleep they stay on the same channel for the 11:30 talk show. So as Lenos show was losing in its time slot to Bravo and Comedy Central everything that came after it tanked as well. The reason Lenos 10pm show got canned was because local affiliates said they were gonna stop carrying it beacuse the local news was tanking so badly.

      • OopsyDaisy

        I love both Conan & Jay, much prefer Jay in 11:35 slot.

        But, some of the logics here just don’t make sense. The fact that CBS prime time beat NBC consistently for years should give Letterman’s the edge over Jay. But, the truth is Jay beat Letter week after week since he came back. So, this proved that people do change channel.

      • Mary

        You mean nobody else got one of those nifty “remote controls” with their televisions?

        (Sarcasm aside, I always channel surf between the late night talk shows. I find it hard to believe that no one, or almost no one, else does.)

    • CHUCKUBUS

      If you people understood how ratings worked, it would make sense to you that Conan got screwed, despite what anyone (even Conan) says. Conan didn’t get enough time to establish himself in the new time slot (6 months? That’s ridiculous) and yeah, I get it, most of Conan’s humor was a little advanced for some not so smart folks. They like the dumb Leno jokes that are brewed for a moronic audience. Regardless, Jay didn’t screw Conan as much as he HELPED screw Conan. Jay’s an Indian Giver, Conan didn’t demand anything, he was oferred the job so greedy NBC could hog all the good late night talent for themselves. The problem was they couldn’t be bothered to give Conan enough of a chance to work out the kinks (same thing happens anytime a new host takes over a show – some smoothing needs to be done, stupid viewers need to be weeded out, etc., etc.) Conan rocks, he should be on The Tonight Show now. I don’t watch any of those guys anymore, I just stay up later for Craig Ferguson (the next best thing to Conan). Conan took thwe high road, you losers who don’t get it will when Conan comes roaring back in the fall. Jay Leno is a manipulative, paranoid jerk. What an ass! He deserves to have that fake “Nice Guy” persona stripped from him.

      • Bob

        Not enough time to establish himself? He’s been doing this for 17 years! You either like him or you don’t.

      • Mary

        I’m not a fan of Leno’s humor. But I fail to see how O’Brien’s is any more “advanced”. His jokes became predictable. Whenever he would mention the names Kirstie Alley or Paris Hilton, you always knew the punchline would include some variation of “fat” or “slut”, respectively. Ha… ha?

        Not to mention the fact that those subjects aren’t particularly topical.

  • Kimberly

    Jay is just not funny anymore.

    • Joe

      Anymore?

      • Sensible

        Jay was and still is funny… which is why he’s been number one for so many years. I don’t think Conan and his high school level humor is funny… but, he has his fans too, and I can respect that.

      • TC

        And how long did it take Leno to reach No.1? Two years. If NBC is dumb enough to do the same thing twice, then they can live with being No.2. Oh and by the way, part of the $30 mil. went to Conan’s crew. Call it like it is, closed-minded opinions do not belong in public.

      • Jeff

        Leno was never funny. He’s popular for the same reason that Friends was able to cruise for 10 years on three jokes, most people are really dumb.

    • Julie

      How funny, Jay was being nice, just like George Lopez is now, it was widely published Jay was given an ultimatum to retire in 5 years or be fired. there is no difference in what Conan is doing to George.

      • matt

        Except that its completely different.

      • Pedroia

        Ya know, cause Lopez called Conan and asked him to join TBS.

      • CHUCKUBUS

        That’s not true, because NBC didn’t “retire” Jay, just moved him. they never wanted to let Jay go, they thought they could keep all the good talent for themselves and it backfired. Good managers know when to let people go, and they should have picked between Jay and Conan when Conan’s contract renewal came up. They either should have left Jay in the Tonight Show (essentially what happened except they paid 50 million for a studio for Conan which is now a warehouse, probably) and gave Conan 30 plus million to go away. That’s an expensive decision that could have cost the idiots nothing by doing the right thing – but they couldn’t be bothered. Conan never d3emanded The Tonight Show, but I do think he should have left when he had the chance – or maybe he really did the right thing, he came out ahead in the long term. Conan is not the one looking bad, here.

  • mrkeys

    I think he wimped out talking about Jay. His ratings were down because Jay’s move to 10 was a failure and he had no lead-in. Conan should take a cue from Howard and just be honest. Don;t worry about burning bridges.

    • Sally

      I wish he could have, but he’s still under a gag order from NBC. No negative talk about either NBC or Jay. Hence the reason Conan did not answer the question about Jay acting honorably either.

  • KJ

    The interview sucked. They didn’t even ask him about his screwing over of Lopez who was given an ultimatum: move your show to 12:00 or we cancel it. Total scumbag move on Conan’s part.

    • Learn the Facts!

      It was Lopez who asked Conan to join TBS.
      Trying to spread misinformation is a total scumbag move on your part.

    • Sally

      Not the case. George has said in a number of interviews that he was fine with pushing his show back to make way for Conan. In fact, Conan said no on the TBS show UNTIL George called him personally and gave his ok.

      • Julie

        Which is exactly what was said when Jay announced his “retirement” way back in 2005, he was forced out, because Conan said I want to move to the tonight show or I am leaving NBC.. did you expect George to come out and say he was wronged? he is just glad he is working, they would have cancelled his show in another 6 months anyway, cause he is NOT funny. and as far as Conan, I ask this… he was on 4 months without Jay, his ratings sucked, and he was up against summer reruns! I like Conan, but his comedy, is better suited for late late night, where he was.

      • Julie

        and if you watched any of the past clips of Jay, when he was being forced to retire, you would see he was just as “ok” with it as George is now.

      • joshua

        Actually George Lopez is pretty funny. I used to not think he was funny than I started watching his sitcom in syndication and it is hilarious.

      • Caleb J

        to quote another commenter here, “I don’t think Lopez would’ve written Conan’s TIME 100 piece if he was upset over the deal”. And Conan agreed to wait 5 YEARS for Jay’s sake. That’s hardly shoving him out of a job!

    • James

      Exactly Sally and Learn The Facts! :)

      • betty

        what are you saying is the “facts”, speculation that George Lopez is lying about how he feels? I’m sorry that is not a fact.

    • Sarah

      George would be an idiot not to have Conan do his show before him. Think of all the extra people that George is going to get watching him now.

      • youtwitface

        Most people did not even know he had a show.

      • Caleb J

        ahem…
        — craig fergeson —

    • flapcat

      If you paid attention it was lopez who asked him to go to tbs and be his lead in.

  • Soul Guy

    He came off as paranoid and neurotic. Who whines about a 32 mil severence? Half the time he made no sense in the interview. I will gladly go through some “stuff” for 32 mil. Another pampered whiner celebrity. Give me a break.

    • James

      He wasn’t wining about his severance. He wasn’t wining at all. I’m wondering if, no offense, English isn’t your first language. Explain to me where in the interview he was wining. You’re one of those people that begrudges celebs money no matter how much it is, right?

      • Jake

        Wondering if English isn’t someone’s first language while you misspell the word ‘whining’ (twice!) in your reply – well, that’s just comedy gold!

      • Jake

        Wondering if English isn’t someone’s first language while you misspell the word ‘whining’ (twice!) in your reply – well, that’s just comedy gold.

      • James

        Oh damn! So I did. Oh well, a misspelled word is still better than a completely incompetent and inaccurate assessment of an interview.

    • Right

      …because accumulating money is the meaning of life? Money buys happiness and fulfillment?
      You come across more like a soulless guy.

  • Jos

    Poor Conan, how will he he ever get by on all those millions! Ever after taxes and fees, maybe he can pick cotten in the hills of Hawaii. He was screwed to be sure.

    • redhead

      Cotton doesn’t grow in Hawaii, genius.

      • Dan

        Actually cotton DOES grow in Hawai’i: Gossipium sandwichensis is an endemic species. When a virus wiped out the entire US crop, they cross-bred the Hawaiian species which was resistant to that virus. As a result, you can still buy cheap cotton tshirts. Mahalo Hawai’i!

        Aloha

      • sumflow

        Anything grows in Hawaii!

  • kushka53

    There is something unseemly about a man who walked away with a 30 million dollar pay off sitting on national tv and whining about what happened. I think the interview was a mistake.

    • Well, then…

      …it’s a good thing Conan was pushed out of his position and has never “whined” about it!
      Glad to hear you watched the interview, because there would be something unseemly about someone critiquing something s/he didn’t actually watch.

    • KatieM

      You’re exactly right!

    • CHUCKUBUS

      Conan never onced whined about anything. He said, “I didn’t get screwed” which surprised even me and he said “I am fine.” I don’t hear the whining (sp?). Sorry, but Conan is too much of a class act. Never once did he complain – except to say he went through “some” depression while he was not working – but that he felt better once he returned to working by doing his fantastic stage show. Conan is king, man! I bet most of his detractors didn’t even see the interview.

  • Mike

    At a time when our national unemployment rate is just a hair under 10%, I think it’s exactly the wrong time to bemoan your $32MM severance buy-out. Have a little empathy for your audience, Conan!

    • James

      If you’re using words like bemoan, I’d hope you be able to get the message of the interview. Guess not.

    • youtwitface

      Most people are employed. The vast majority.

      • Dave

        Masterful statement.

    • Caleb J

      his 200 employees NBC also fired were well compensated at conan’s insistence. Did you hear anything about Jay’s employees when the tonight show ended for him?
      No.

  • mtee

    How many millions did he get.. my comment? Boo HOO. Let’s see how many of us are unemployed and NOT getting millions? So tired of it. Deal with it.. you got paid handsomely. I’m about to get laid off and I would LOVE to get the millions he got. Heck, just give me a year’s salary and I’d be happy.
    Quit your whining and get on with it. I refuse to feel sorry for you.

    • Vern

      Conan didn’t whine, and he didn’t ask you to feel sorry for him. Get over yourself.

    • James

      He did the opposite of wining. If you actually understood the English language you’d understand that the last thing he said was “don’t feel sorry for me.” This is the antithesis of wining.

    • Kelly

      “I’m about to get laid off”
      My comment? Boo HOO.

    • Hannah

      I don’t really think this is about money at all- Conan was making millions during The Tonight Show, and correct me if I’m wrong, Late Night as well. This is about achieving a goal that you’ve had since a kid. If I had my dream job taken away, I’d be pissed too!

      • youtwitface

        Especially when you’re lied to by your employer and your so-called friend whose name is Leno!

    • Caleb J

      you are the one whining, not conan.

  • James

    Wow. You guys are all really not all that on it, are you? Do you have any clue how business and contracts work? Conant was guaranteed money for doing work for a certain amount of time. He was fired (unfairly) and so NBC was held to the contract they signed with Conan. It happens all the time in business.

    And he wasn’t wining. Saying that his job was taken unfairly, that he felt like crap about it and that he was sad about losing the job doesn’t equate to wining. He was explaining his side of the story.

    All of you decrying Conan for this are gross and jealous.

    • Jeff

      Seriously dude, you just need to stop being on here all day. Get a life. Everyone has their opinions and you continue to think people care about yours about as much as you care about theirs.

      • Caleb J

        jeff, say that again while looking in a mirror.

      • Jeff

        Yeah, you are right, I’m pretty stupid. I know no one cares about what I say but I’m a sad little man, so, you know, I’ll spout off about anything…

  • netboy

    you poor losers!
    when you are rich (and have $30 millions), it’ not about money anymore! it’ about pride! stupid!

  • Jon

    uh, what? did any of you haters even watch the interview? he was definitely not whining and he specifically said himself that he did _not_ get screwed. also, all the people who keep spouting that he lost the job because he wasn’t good at it: 1. the whole catalyst for the situation was leno’s poor rating’s at 10 which prompted complaints from affiliates to dump the 10 o’clock leno show. 2. the simple math for nbc was this: fire leno = $150 million, fire conan = $30 million. gee, not a hard decision

  • Lisa

    If you don’t like that he got $32 million for his contract being severed then go into show business. He wasn’t whining at all. He was treated unfairly. He had a contract, the contract was broken, but not because he was doing a poor job. NBC gave him a horrible lead in and then got upset when the show didn’t do well. He was treated unfairly, something that most of us should be able to relate to. No, we don’t get millions when we get treated unfairly, but we also don’t work in the same business as he does.

    • James

      Exactly. It’s show business not “show feel sorry for the rest of America about the economy so you turn down the money you are rightfully owed”.

  • Karen

    Conan is a real guy with a real heart and a real strong woman behind him!

    I’m so glad the O’Briens did this!

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