Rumors are circulating in Hollywood that NBC is scrambling to find a guest host to fill in for Conan O'Brien on Tuesday's Tonight Show. Earlier today O'Brien issued a statement rejecting NBC's proposal to move his show to 12:05 a.m. to make room for a renewed late-night program hosted by the last Tonight Show host, Jay Leno.
If the rumors, which have been tweeted by Franklin Avenue blogger and Variety journalist Michael Schneider, prove to be true, they point to even greater unhappiness over the scheduling than O'Brien expressed in his emotional statement today. If verified, it might appear that O'Brien has walked away from NBC in protest. Guests line up for a chance to see the show at 3 p.m. and it apparently tapes at 5.
His statement made it sound like the late-night host wanted to work with NBC and inspire the network to reverse its decision. He wrote that “my hope is that NBC and I can resolve this.” In this scenario, either O'Brien is walking away in disgust, or he's playing hardball.
The scheduling moves were made by NBC after the network announced it would cancel the Jay Leno Show, a prime-time experiment that drew dismal ratings. Leno's shtick worked better late-night, where he was the ratings winner. After O'Brien took over Leno's Tonight Show in summer, he struggled to match the elder's viewership.