There's just one issue...and it's a tall, gangly, red-haired, dryly humorous, Harvard educated one. Mr. O'Brien is most decidedly NOT signing on to this. He may have a serious problem - the language in his contract doesn't guarantee him the 11:35 time slot. A couple of submariners could have negotiated a better deal than that. They'd know better than to believe in any "implied" guarantee based on six decades of tradition and precedent. If it's not in writing, you can't rely on it...as Conan is harshly finding out.
Public (and by that I mean "Internet") sentiment is largely behind Coco after this statement, and I come down on the same side. His statement conveyed his position most artfully. Conan invokes a "Tonight Show" tradition that spans six decades, doesn't give the lawyers any openings (he forcefully states he's still under contract to NBC), and begins and ends with humor - and does all this while reminding us that NBC threw him under the bus, put the transmission of that bus in reverse, and slammed on the gas pedal.
The smart money has O'Brien heading to Fox and heading up a late-night franchise there. But one great sage has suggested this may not be his best course, and I'm inclined to agree. Via his Twitter, The Sports Guy suggests that Conan isn't right on any network at any hour prior to midnight. Bill's suggestion? O'Brien should move to Comedy Central and do an hour after Stewart and Colbert. In principle, I like the idea; it's a similar type of humor, and I think Conan would get a strong lead-in from the hour before him. But I think Conan would see that as dropping himself down a level or two, and thus Fox is likely to end up his home, even if NBC decides to put him in the proverbial "penalty box" for some length of time.
Hopefully, for the sake of all parties involved, this can be settled quickly so everyone can move on and, as Conan said yesterday, his "staff, crew, and [he] can do a show we can be proud of, for a company that values [their] work" - which, after all is said and done, is the most important thing in all of this.