O’Brien Faces Final Curtain of The Tonight Show: ‘I Did it My Way’
January 23, 2010
(ChattahBox)—Like the late crooner Frank Sinatra, Conan O’Brien began his stint as host of The Tonight Show on his own terms and left the heralded late night program the same way. “I did it my way” without any regrets, the red-haired comedian told his audience on Friday. During his last appearance as The Tonight Show host, a job he coveted for years, as the pinnacle of television comedy, Conan thanked “NBC for making it all possible,” but not before getting in a few last swipes at his now-ex-employer. His last show was comedy gold, with appearances by Tom Hanks, Will Ferrell, Ben Stiller, Robin Williams and a hilarious turn by Steve Carell of “The Office,” to conduct O’Brien’s “exit interview,” after which O’Brien handed over his company ID badge that was promptly shredded.
Conan O’Brien’s final Tonight Show appearance came on the heels of two-weeks of soap opera-ish media drama and public acrimony between O’Brien, NBC and Jay Leno, after the network decided to cancel Leno’s failed prime-time show and award him with the coveted 11:35 time slot belonging to Conan’s The Tonight Show. The pompadoured comedian rejected NBC’s offer to continue as Tonight Show host at a later time slot. And the drama ended with NBC paying O’Brien a $45 million settlement to leave his contract.
Conan’s last show began with a standing ovation, with the crowd shouting, “Conan, Conan.” “Thank you, that’s going to have to last me awhile,” quipped O’Brien, who is restricted from returning to the airwaves, until September.
During his opening monologue O’Brien suggessted possible uses for the soon-to-be empty studio. O’Brien came up with a few ideas including a “storage facility for apology notes to NBC stockholders,” and “leave the studio cold and empty and rename it “The World’s Largest Metaphor For NBC Programing.”
The musical guest for the evening was singer Neil Young, who performed “Long May You Run.”
At the end of his final Tonight Show in an emotional statement, Conan expressed his gratitude for having “the best job in the world.”
“Walking away from ‘The Tonight Show’ is the hardest thing I have ever had to do,” said O’Brien.
“This is the best job in the world, I absolutely love doing it … I did it my way, with people I love and I do not regret a second. I’ve had more good fortune than anyone I know.”
Then Will Ferrell joined O’Brien to sing the appropriately titled song, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird.
Jay Leno will take over as host of The Tonight Show on March 1.
O’Brien is reportedly considering the idea of creating his own late night show for the Fox Network in the fall.