Conan O'Brien barreled head-on into swirling rumors about his and Jay Leno's NBC shows Friday night, ripping into Leno and the chat-show controversy with a monologue full of wisecracks just an hour after Leno delivered his own set of jabs at the late-night rumor mill.
O'Brien began his "Tonight Show" monologue by telling the audience he'd address a set of "rumors" about his show, most notably reports NBC would put Leno's prime-time program back in its 11:35 slot and move O'Brien, who replaced Leno, back to following Leno at 12:05.
News also surfaced Friday evening that Fox network executives were eyeing O'Brien closely and would make moves to snap the late-night host up if he leaves NBC, according to an Associated Press source. O'Brien didn't address the Fox rumors on the show, but made plenty of digs at Leno and the late-night shuffle.
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"We've got a great show for you tonight. I have no idea what time it will air, but it's going to be a great show," O'Brien quipped at the start of his monologue.
"I'm sure you've heard all the rumors," he joked. "NBC has come up with an exciting new idea, they want me to follow Jay Leno."
O'Brien continued the joke throughout the monologue, deadpanning that lawyers had asked him to refer to "Tonight" as "The Sometime-at-Night Show With Some White Guy." The host also took pot shots at Leno himself, doing an impression of the uniquely voiced late-night icon while roasting Leno's notorious obsession with classic cars.
After the monologue, O'Brien continued the show with his "The Crisis" segment, jokingly addressing in succession a series of laughable rumors about him and Leno. Among the cooked-up scenarios O'Brien riffed off:
- "'The Tonight Show' will be an iPhone app and the Jay Leno show will become an XBox game."
- "Jay and I will be joining the cast of "Jersey Shore" as a new character called 'The Awkward Situation.'"
- "I'm pregnant with Jay's baby."
- "Jay's pregnant with my baby."
- "We're both pregnant with Tiger Woods' babies."
The final jab: "NBC is going to throw me and Jay in a pit with sharpened sticks. The one who crawls out gets to leave NBC."
O'Brien's Friday late-night rant followed Leno's Thursday night prime-time monologue, during which the other former late-night host also poked fun at the potential shuffle.
Leno followed his Thursday act with a brief discussion of the late-night craziness during his Friday show, pulling CBS host David Letterman into the mix with a comment about Letterman's reported dalliances with staff -- and that since Leno's show is facing low ratings, Leno's efforts to steer clear of Letterman's mistakes were all for naught.
"You know what this means? I didn't sleep with my staff for nothing," Leno joked.
The former late-night host also took a jab at his own program, joking during a bit about the newly released list of species about to be extinct that the most endangered species is "us (his prime-time show)."