With Conan O’Brien and Jay Leno receiving more hype now than when NBC switched their hosting duties last summer, as the network recently canceled Leno’s 10pm prime-time show and O’Brien is scheduled to film his last episode as “The Tonight Show” host on Friday, celebrities and fans alike are taking sides. But O’Brien’s fans have one less reason to celebrate their favorite male red-headed comedian’s departure from the network that wronged him: NBC owns the characters recurring comedy sketches featured on both “The Tonight Show” and ‘Late Night With Conan O’Brien,” the Hollywood Reporter announced.
That means if O’Brien accepts a job on another network, much like David Letterman did in 1993 when he moved from NBC to CBS, he won’t be able to bring his signature sketch routines, including Pimpbot 5000. However, O’Brien’s most popular character, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, might be excluded, as it was created by Rob Smigel, the man behind ‘SNL TV Funhouse’ and the voice of Triumph. It’s still not certain who owns Triumph-NBC or Smigel.
If O’Brien follows in Letterman’s lead, he might be able to use his established bits on other shows, as long as he changes the names. NBC tried to stop Letterman from taking his famous sketches to CBS’s “The Late Show,” but he simply changed the names; for example, ‘Viewer Mail’ became ‘CBS Mailbag.’ But The Hollywood Reporter also reported that O’Brien may feel more comfortable just starting new bits and sketches, rather than take his NBC characters with him, as he was released from his contract less than eight months after his debut.
Written by: Karen Benardello