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Comedy, Photography, and a 3rd generic interest


How the TBS deal happened


In case you were wondering, Conan is a class act all the way.

The Turner Entertainment president, Steve Koonin, laid out the network’s offer to give Mr. O’Brien a show at 11 p.m. weeknights, but Mr. Polone said that the Conan side had an immediate reaction: “You guys already have an 11 p.m. show.”

He was referring to the current 11 p.m. late-night show on TBS, hosted by comedian George Lopez. Mr. Polone said that Mr. Koonin told him everything had been worked out and that Mr. Lopez had agreed to slide his show back to midnight to make room for Mr. O’Brien.

But that script was awfully familiar to the Conan O’Brien side. “That sounded very similar to Jeff Gaspin coming to Conan and asking him to move back to midnight to make room for Jay,” Mr. Polone said.

Mr. Polone said he went to Mr. O’Brien to inform him of the TBS offer. “Conan said, ‘We’re not putting ourselves in the position of shoving somebody out of his show.’ ” That blocked the potential deal for a brief time.

But that position changed after another phone call. Mr. Polone said that Mr. Lopez himself called Mr. O’Brien personally. “George called Conan to sell Conan on this idea. He was all for it. It really was George who made this happen.”

With Mr. Lopez on board, talks became serious very quickly with TBS, Mr. Polone said.

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