question of the day: What should Conan O’Brien do next?

We haven’t heard much from Conan O’Brien since NBC unceremoniously booted him from The Tonight Show after Jay Leno’s experiment with primetime chat flopped. But now, with the networks in the final throes of lining up next fall’s programming schedules, he’s back in the spotlight, if only a small one. The USA Today blog Technology Live says:

O’Brien’s fate will be a top-of-mind question in the TV business for the next few weeks. The comic begins a live performance tour tonight, which will keep him in the public eye as he negotiates with Fox about possibly returning to TV this fall with a show that might air weeknights at 11:00 p.m. The network will present its fall TV programming shows to advertisers on May 17.

The decision isn’t just up to Fox, though. Its local affiliates would have to agree to dump the late-night shows that they’ve licensed — frequently re-runs of The Simpsons and Seinfeld -– to make room for O’Brien. Stations that made long-term deals to syndicate the sitcoms would probably just have to absorb their losses.

Oh, and Fox apparently would want its affiliates to cough up part of the cost of producing an O’Brien show, which could become a factor in battles between cable and satellite providers on the one side and the network on the other, the likes of which we saw with ABC and Cablevision last month.

SFGate is reporting that:

Fox is still coaxing its affiliates into letting Conan O’Brien start a late night franchise on the network.

So while executives and station managers waffle on the ousted host, Conan’s team of negotiators are exploring their options at other networks including Starz and Showtime.

I’m starting to wonder if O’Brien and his people shouldn’t try to reinvent the talk show with the 21st century. Why not go online only? Why not a series of daily sketches released on YouTube? Is that such a crazy notion for someone with his devoted following?

What should Conan O’Brien do next?

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Mon, Apr 12, 2010 11:37am

I think you’re absolutely right, Conan should go online-only. Daily features, blog, exclusive interviews, short films, he could do anything. And I think the market is definitely there. His site could be mostly free with special members only perks. Make it a reasonable subscriber fee and I’d be in.

Mon, Apr 12, 2010 11:43am

I like your way of thinking, MaryAnn. Though I’m sure Conan (and his people) aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel especially since one of the reasons Conan is probably doing this is so that he can re-hire the people who lost their jobs because of the whole NBC debacle. Making it online/Youtube only would probably mean not only hiring new people but NOT hiring the same (amount of) people from before.

I do think that if Conan didn’t have to worry about those people, he could be doing a bunch of things. But I’m glad he’s looking out for them.

bitchen frizzy
bitchen frizzy
Mon, Apr 12, 2010 11:54am

How much money could Conan make, if he were online only?

Mon, Apr 12, 2010 12:07pm

He should do whatever the hell he wants to do. With the money he made from the NBC settlement he’s never going to have to work another day in his life, so he can spend the rest of his career filming his nosehairs in 1080p and posting it on Youtube if that’s what he wants.

Mon, Apr 12, 2010 1:33pm

Breaking News: Conan to host late-night show on TBS. It’s on at 11pm bumping George Lopez (voluntarily) to midnight. He will own the show.

Mon, Apr 12, 2010 1:35pm

THIS IS ALL MOOT. Conan signed with Turner Broadcasting in a massive deal that will make him more money and give him more control and more outlets than ever. The lady who writes this column consistently has the worse timing I’ve ever seen. So often her articles are stale the moment they hit the internet and there are no efforts to try and update the articles. This was posted BEFORE the Conan announcement, but heck, I found the article and was able to update it.

Mon, Apr 12, 2010 2:15pm

Your complaint has been noted and forwarded to the management.