The not-so-funny NBC time-slot soap opera that has developed between funnymen Conan O’Brien and Jay Leno is apparently taking its toll on O’Brien who released a statement announcing that he would not accept the move to12.05am as proposed by NBC.
According to a “Tonight Show” insider, the comedian was absolutely devastated when addressing the issue with his team on Tuesday.
"Everybody has been walking around really sad and it's really weird as far as going on with the show. It's miserable around there and Conan gave a speech to all of his staff and he broke down crying,” said our source. “He is incredibly tight with his staff. This is the staff from his inception, from when he first started, which is why this is pretty unreal. This is the staff from the start."
Most of Conan's team uprooted from New York to Los Angeles when he moved from his "Late Night" slot just seven months ago, and many are fearful of the future, says the source.
“They all moved out here to come and work on the show and they don't have the monetary resources that Conan has. They started their lives out here (in LA) and didn't have cars before, they were taking the subway, and now they've purchased cars, they've purchased homes, and they've done a tremendous amount to make a life out here because they thought they were in it for the long haul,” said the insider.
But all may not be lost! Another NBC insider told Pop Tarts the general “Tonight Show” mood is still fairly optimistic. The source said the process of finding O’Brien a new home is moving “incredibly fast” and the staffers feel confident that it will all work out.
So is O’Brien doing the right thing in saying "thanks, but no thanks" to the network he has worked for for the past 17 years?
“Conan and Jay are both embarrassed and hurt. I’m sure NBC executives are pulling their hair out over what’s been a tough couple of weeks,” managing editor of entertainment site Fancast.com Todd Gold told Pop Tarts. “Conan is making a smart stand. NBC is dealing with a very messy mistake. Somebody is going to go; somebody’s feelings will get hurt.”
Hollywood publicist Michael Levine of Levine Communications believes Conan, Leno and NBC all need a big reality check.
“The truth is that most people under 30 don’t care about TV, they care about what’s on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Neither NBC, Leno or Conan have any leverage and you can't negotiate without leverage,” Levine said. “The problem is they all still think they’re all important, but perception hasn’t caught up with reality. We’re in a time where the world is changing; the brand that Johnny Carson built doesn’t exist anymore. Nobody cares, and the sooner the three parties recognize that the better. Maybe they should start an Internet site. But Conan can’t stay [at NBC]; it has all been very humiliating for him.”
Our insider remains hopeful.
“I think it'll bounce back, but it's going to take time," said the source. "Ultimately I think that Conan will be the winner, it’s just sad they [the staff] have to go through all this."
Hollie McKay has a been a Fox News Digital staff reporter since 2007. She has extensively reported from war zones including Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Burma and investigates global conflicts, war crimes and terrorism around the world. Follow her on twitter and Instagram @holliesmckay