Conan O’Brien, you’ll remember, was the host of The Tonight Show for a minute back in 2010–just after Jay Leno and before Jay Leno again. But Conan’s quirky comedy sensibility (however much it endears him to Team CoCo) didn’t delight NBC executives, who had a costly case of buyer’s remorse. Seven months after he arrived, Conan received a very nice sum of money ($45 million) to pack his bags. NBC gave the show, then based in Los Angeles, back to Leno–who hung around until recently.
In 2014 NBC gave The Tonight Show to former SNL star Jimmy Fallon, who opted to do it from New York instead of California. NBC is delighted with Fallon’s softball style, musical mimicry and buoyant Nielsen ratings. (Plus he’s got The Roots–the best houseband in world.) So NBC put Fallon’s name in lights–bright ones. Since last week one of the most famous buildings in New York, 30 Rockefeller Center, says “THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON” on the marquee. Conan O’Brien got his professional start at 30 Rock, a Harvard grad crafting sketches for Saturday Night Live. But these days he can’t much like to walk by there–what with Fallon’s name on what should have been his sign. If anyone can, O’Brien sees the humor in it. Just in case, O’Brien does his Conan show on TBS from Burbank, California.