Talks between Conan O’Brien and FOX about launching a late-night show are getting more serious.
The network and O’Brien have been talking ever since O’Brien lost his “Tonight Show” job in January, and now several reports say the negotiations are getting a little more serious. Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of FOX parent News Corp., has given his blessing to network executives to work on a deal, and, as the L.A. Times notes, the goal is to have something to announce at FOX’s upfront presentation in May.
The biggest sticking point remains getting affiliates to sign off on a late-night show, but as someone close to O’Brien tells the Times, “We’ll get there.”
Meanwhile, The Wrap is reporting that a couple of syndication companies — including Debmar Mercury, which distributes Tyler Perry’s sitcoms and “South Park,” among other shows — have approached Team Coco about a syndicated talk show that would air in the early evening. That’s considered something of a long shot at the moment, though.
A FOX deal will hinge on O’Brien and his team being able to produce a show cheaply enough to be profitable for the network and on getting affiliates to agree to air it, the Times and Wrap reports note. Local stations make good money on the syndicated shows that run after their late local newscasts and in some cases are locked into contracts to air certain shows in that time period. That could result in an O’Brien show that, at least at first, airs in different time periods depending on the market.
That’s hardly an ideal situation, but the reports say FOX understands the obstacles and would be willing to weather that possibility for a while.
O’Brien, meanwhile, hits the road for a live tour — The Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour — on April 12.
Photo credit: NBC