Conans New Half-Hour Format Means Fewer Celebrity Interviews, More Comedy


UPDATED with Conan interview: Conan OBriens TBS late-night show will become less traditional, less structured, and 30-minutes long in 2019, as he looks to break Conans mold.

Set will change; also gone the very traditional three-celebrities-plugging-something format. It will, however, remain based in Los Angeles, though it will go on the road more often.

“The forma has always been Guest 1, Guest 2 and Guest 3, and maybe two acts of comedy,” Conan described, forecasting just one behind the desk celebrity interviews a night.

TBS announced about a year ago that changes were being mulled to the show, including the possibility it would air one night a week, like TBSs Full Frontal. “We looked into that and, turns out, America would not put up with it – the economy would crash,” Conan joked on a phoner with reporters.

Beginning in January of 2019, Conan will air from 11-11:30 PM Monday through Thursday. Asked whats to become of TBSs 11:30 PM half hour — TBS/TNT chief Kevin Reilly also was on the phoner – Conan announced Navel Gazing with Conan OBrien, in which, “I do the show from 11 to 11:30 and then sit, from 11:30 to 12, and analyze what just happened on Conan a la The Talking Dead.

Conan credits his Conan Without Borders road trips with setting in motion these changes. It started as a “lark” when President Obama announced his administration would work to improve relations with Cuba he and a small group “hopped on a plane and shot the program “guerrilla style” with very little preparation. It was absolutely almost a religious experience for me,” he said. “It completely changed my opinion of what these shows can be. But, then hopping on a plane and going to Haiti on two days notice is extremely difficult when youre doing four hours of linear programs a week.” The half hour format give him the flexibility and allows me to act on my instincts.”

“At this stage in my career Id like to do much more of the stuff I love and am passionate about, that seems to resonate with my fans who are online less of this format I inherited because thats what what I was handed in 1993” when named host of NBCs Late Night.

Speaking thereof, in celebration of his 25 years on late night TV, Team Coco will be making OBriens entire catalogue from Late Night with Conan OBrien on NBC ,and Conan on TBS, available digitally. TBS cut a licensing deal with NBC on Conans Late Night episodes, something Conan said hes dreamed about the last couple years theyve been in talks with his former late-night home. It will premiere in the fall and, he said, has never been so happy about anything in his life “and I have two children. Somehow this resonates more with me, emotionally,” he joked.

And, OBriens going on a multi-city tour that will launch later this year with a group of young comics he has curated, TBS announced as part of a partnership spanning television, digital, social and live events .

The Team Coco push will be spearheaded by Billy Parks who has been named to the newly created position of Chief Brand Officer for the joint venture. Parks will work closely with longtime Conan EP Jeff Ross. Parks most recently served as EVP of creative and content strategy at x Otter Media.

Team Coco will continue to develop branded linear and digital content, strengthening the relationships between OBriens comedic brand and advertising partners. His multi-platform hit franchise Clueless Gamer is the model.

“It has to be the right marriage,” Conan said on the phone call. “Im looking for advertisers willing to play, be creative, take a little bit of a risk. Nobody wants to see me say, Conan here for ExxonMobile. I wish they did, because that would be a lot of money.”

In todays announcement, Conan said his goal “is to be Red Lobster, only instead of affordable seafood we make comedy, and every customer gets a bib. I wish I had thought this through.”

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