Via the Bill Carter's Media Decoder blog: Conan O'Brien has released a statement saying that he will not do The Tonight Show if it is moved to the 12:05 time slot, as NBC intends to do next month. From his statement:
Last Thursday, NBC executives told me they intended to move the Tonight Show to 12:05 to accommodate the Jay Leno Show at 11:35. For 60 years the Tonight Show has aired immediately following the late local news. I sincerely believe that delaying the Tonight Show into the next day to accommodate another comedy program will seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting. The Tonight Show at 12:05 simply isn’t the Tonight Show. Also, if I accept this move I will be knocking the Late Night show, which I inherited from David Letterman and passed on to Jimmy Fallon, out of its long-held time slot. That would hurt the other NBC franchise that I love, and it would be unfair to Jimmy.
So it has come to this: I cannot express in words how much I enjoy hosting this program and what an enormous personal disappointment it is for me to consider losing it. My staff and I have worked unbelievably hard and we are very proud of our contribution to the legacy of The Tonight Show. But I cannot participate in what I honestly believe is its destruction. Some people will make the argument that with DVRs and the Internet a time slot doesn’t matter. But with the Tonight Show, I believe nothing could matter more.
O'Brien goes on to say that he currently has no other offers (oh, how that's going to change) and "no idea what happens next." While his statement doesn't explicitly state that he's leaving The Tonight Show, he's basically saying he won't do what NBC wants. And so continues one of the biggest fiascoes in television history. Who would've guessed that the Jay-vs.-Dave shake-up of the '90s would pale in comparison to what came next?
Check out Conan's biting monologue from last night here.
UPDATE: The bloodbath could be getting worse: Rob Shuter's Naughty But Nice blog says that Leno is considering walking away too. Fair or not, he's being demonized along with NBC, which obviously isn't sitting well with him. Adds a "TV insider":
"Plus, what happens when Jay does return to the 11:35 slot if his audience doesn't immediately follow? How can he possibly trust the same network that canceled Conan after only seven months?"
An excellent point, Hypothetical Jay Leno.