From Ray Richmond, who is contributing to Deadline Hollywood’s TCA Coverage:
Speaking to the media en masse for the first time since landing last fall with his own late-night chatfest at TBS, Conan O’Brien expressed that he’s never been happier – so happy, in fact, that he no longer sees a need to fire shots at his longtime NBC teammate-turned-nemesis Jay Leno.
Meeting TV critics on the Warner Bros. set of his show as part of the semi-annual TCA event, Conan was asked if he ever saw any scenario where he would again speak to Leno. “No, I don’t think so,” he said. “I don’t think, I mean…there’s nothing to be figured out. We all know the story and we all know what happened. Life is short. I’ve got kids and a family and a life to live and I’m really happy here so I don’t think about it too much. And I’m sure he’s busy.”
Compare that dismissal to Conan’s reaction when it was pointed out he’d received a holiday phone call from David Letterman. “He wanted to know what I was wearing,” he quipped. “Sick man. No, it was just a quick call. We hadn’t spoken for a long time. He just called to basically say I haven’t checked in on you and just wanted to make sure we were good. I said, ‘We’ve always been good.’ I said, ‘You didn’t owe me a phone call, but I appreciate it.’ It was nice to get the call.”
Meanwhile, TBS programming chief Michael Wright dismissed any concern over Conan’s sliding numbers after its big opening weel, maintaining that the show’s median age (33) and 18-49 numbers (better than 1.4 million adults 18-49 on average) bode well for a long run. “He’s number one with key demos, and we’re thrilled that the show is even younger than expected,” Wright said. “The show is a huge success, even if you discount the first week’s numbers. It’s right on track.”
O’Brien was also inspired to speak on a variety of other topics, including:
-Why he misses NBC: “There’s a whole part of my life and body of work that I had there, 17 years’ worth, that I’m very proud of. I was with that company for a long time, had a lot of amazing experiences with them, and I felt like I was a part of that family. There are times when I still feel that loss.”
-Why he hasn’t bothered to shave his beard: “I grew it because I hate shaving. It’s a feeling of liberation, and everybody who loses a job does it, or does something, you know? I started it my last day on ‘The Tonight Show.’ Next thing you know, we’re taking publicity photos with the beard. It could go tomorrow. It could fall off entirely after my body loses all its testosterone. But I completely reject the notion I’m in any way a sex symbol and I think my fans do as well.”
-Why he loves his new job: “It’s a very different feeling here. It’s like we’re all on a pirate ship, a spirit that I think comes through on television…My job is to have fun on television and try not to overthink it, and that’s what I’m doing. This show has just been a crazy journey of discovery.”
-Why the ratings continue to show him drawing in young people, with a median audience age of 33: “That’s a good question, and the answer is I really don’t know. When I started out, I always assumed those people would come along with me. And that’s happened, but at the same time I continue to attract the people in their 20’s.”
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