Conan O'Brien is moving to TBS this November to launch a show at 11.

The tall red-headed lad announced it himself, via (what else?) a tweet:

"The good news: I will be doing a show on TBS starting in November! The bad news: I'll be playing Rudy on the all new Cosby Show."

Quickly, George Lopez is not out. He's just moving to midnight.

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A surprise: Well I should think so. Fox discussions were moving along briskly, and trade reports from last night suggested that even if a deal was not imminent, all parties were working towards a May announcement, in time for the upfronts.

There were warning signs too: Conan was concerned, for example, that affiliates were not going to offer 100 percent clearance (many don't want a late night show, and have not wanted a late night show ever since the abrupt decline and fall of Chevy.)

Moreover, Fox was trying to figure out if this venture was even going to make money - a n extraordinary concern given that just about everything in late night makes money. 

For TBS, of course, this is a coup. For Conan, probably the same - although it will never look quite so grand on his resume when you get to the 2010 line and it notes that "Conan O'Brien leaves the 'Tonight Show' for TBS.'"

Ba dum.

But swallow your pride and prejudice (as Co clearly has) and you quickly realize that TBS is a big, serious and almost-important  network, and Co will get his cherished clearance, no ifs, or ands or buts.

But...(there is a but here) he will also be playing to a much much smaller house and the greatest concern for him must therefor be: Promotion.
 

Yes, promotion. It's always overlooked in these sorts of deals, but it's hugely important and the reason a move to Fox would have represented a victory-apres-defeat. Fox has "American Idol" and that means a super-charged promotion machine that would direct millions of viewers to its late night franchise. Yes, it also has "House"...and "Glee"...and "Bones"...and on and on and on. 

TBS has some hits too. None of 'em quite in this league, you may accurately observe.

 The release:

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Comedy icon Conan O’Brien is joining TBS to host a late-night

talk show that is expected to debut in November.  The Emmy®-

winning comedian’s new program will be followed by Lopez

Tonight, which will shift to a midnight time slot.

O’Brien began talks in earnest with TBS just last week, after

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George Lopez personally called him to ask that he consider

joining the network’s late-night line-up.  “I can’t think of

anything better than doing my show with Conan as my lead-in,”

Lopez said.  “It’s the beginning of a new era in late-night

comedy.”

Said O’Brien: “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 and Lopez will give TBS a dynamic lineup in late-night

television.  TBS – which has built a programming slate that

appeals to a young, diverse audience – expects O’Brien to be a

long-term addition to the network’s late-night landscape.  O’

Brien will host his hour-long, yet-to-be-titled show Mondays

through Thursdays at 11 p.m. (ET/PT).

“Conan has been the comedic voice for a generation.  TBS

already has a huge audience of young comedy lovers, and Conan’s

show will give these fans even more reasons to watch our

network,” said Steve Koonin, president of Turner Entertainment

Networks.

With the addition of O’Brien’s show, TBS will establish two

hours of late-night talk.  Lopez Tonight, while just a few

months old, has already become a destination show for a diverse

audience.  The Lopez Tonight audience is young as well, with a

median age of just 34.

“For decades, late-night TV has been dominated by broadcast

television,” Koonin said.  “Now, with a young audience and a

growing late-night lineup, TBS is set to be the choice of

comedy fans for years to come.”

O’Brien is well-known from his many years in comedy.  He grew

up in a large, Irish Catholic family in a suburb of Boston. 

His love of comedy began at an early age and carried on when he

entered Harvard University, where he earned a degree in

history.  During his years at Harvard, he also wrote for the

legendary Harvard Lampoon publication, eventually serving as

its president.

After leaving Harvard, O’Brien went to Los Angeles, where he

found several writing jobs for television, including HBO’s Not

Necessarily the News.  After returning to the East Coast, O’

Brien joined the writing team at Saturday Night Live, earning

his first Emmy in 1989.  He was writing for the hit show The

Simpsons when Lorne Michaels approached him about a new late-

night series for NBC.  In 1993, Late Night with Conan O’Brien

launched.  The show ran for 16 years, ending when O’Brien

briefly took over The Tonight Show.

O’Brien is currently touring the United States and Canada with

his live show, Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on

Television Tour. 

TBS, a division of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., is

television’s top-rated comedy network.  It serves as home to

such original comedy series as My Boys, Tyler Perry’s House of

Payne and Meet the Browns, as well as the upcoming Neighbors

from Hell and Are We There Yet?; the hit late-night series

Lopez Tonight, starring George Lopez; hot contemporary comedies

like The Office and Family Guy; and specials like Funniest

Commercials of the Year; blockbuster movies; and hosted movie

showcases.  TBS also presents major live events, including

star-studded comedy festivals in Chicago and Las Vegas.

Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner company,

creates and programs branded news, entertainment, animation and

young adult media environments on television and other

platforms for consumers around the world.