An Irish bookmaker is offering short odds of 2/1 that Conan O'Brien quits as The Tonight Show host before June 2010.
Paddy Power, which is know for setting odds on unconventional matters, is also offering odds on which network O'Brien moves to should he leave NBC. The Dublin-based company laid down odds of 11/8 that the 46-year-old funnyman will move to Fox. After Rupert Murdoch's network, odds are:
* 2/1 Conan will go to ABC;
* 3/1 he'll join Letterman over at CBS;
* 5/1 he'll start something new at MyNetworkTV;
* 12/1 he'll end up at the equally syndicalicious The CW;
* 66/1 he'll take a stiff upper lift to the BBC.
For those who have been in a cave or simply don't care, O'Brien, who took over the flagship Tonight Show from Jay Leno last year, is unhappy with NBC's decision to move the program a half hour after the Jay Leno Show, which will move into the 11:35 p.m. slot.
"From Conan's point of view it must be a real kick where the sun don't shine to have the show moved past midnight," says Paddy Power. "I wouldn't be surprised if pride gets the better of him and its adiós to NBC."
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He's already exposing his fangs. Besides the long statement O'Brien issued saying he has no intentions of giving up the 11:35 slot, the host has been knocking his current network in his show every night. Leno, Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel and Craig Ferguson have been piling on as well. Gawker has compiled clips from each broadcast. You should really watch them if you're into the late-night trainwreck, but, as an appetizer, here are some select bits, in order of appearance on your TV screen:
* Leno only offered brief mentions of the 10 p.m. cancellation in his monologue--and no mention of O'Brien's statement--but first guest Sandra Bullock asked, ""By the way, is this gonna be on the air tonight?" Leno responded, "Yes, Miss Smart Ass" and confirming it would be on. "I just don't want to waste the dress," explained Bullock. It was not until a later segment with Anderson Cooper that the fangs of Leno and his writers toward NBC came out. Cooper has a special coming out about the imperiled planet and endangered species. You can guess where it went from there.
* In his monologue, Letterman said Al Qaeda had taken responsibility for the mess at NBC. Later at his desk, he referred to Jay "Big Jaw" Leno and showed a clip for a show NBC can use to fill its now-open 10 p.m. slot: Law & Order: Leno Victims Unit. He gave a long, five-minute summation of the situation that included this: "Here's the deal. Anytime there's a big stink like this, and--believe me--there hasn't been a big stink like this in years, it's money. Don't kid yourselves, it's all about money. And as nice a guy as Conan is, he's a smart fellow, and he knows that if he takes a hike, he's gonna lose an enormous sum of money. So he just now says, 'Well, I'm not gonna follow Jay, you guys do something about it.'"
* "We're Not Just Screwing Up Prime Time" is NBC's new motto, O'Brien said in his monologue, which began with a biting two-minute riff on the Peacock Network. Later, he had world dictators and Howie "Deal or No Deal" Mandel weigh in. After the monologue, he invited Tonight Show writer Deon Cole on stage to explain the situation with NBC from a different perspective. Cole likened NBC to a "pimp" and O'Brien, Leno, Jimmy Fallon and Carson Daly to "hos";
* Kimmel opened his show as Leno--complete with a gray wig, prosthetic chin and a makeshift Kevin Eubanks in the form of Kimmel band leader Cleto Escobedo--and performed his full monologue in the get-up. Gawker put it best: "Kimmel decimated Leno with every passing second." Later in the show, Kimmel as Leno interviewed Chevy Chase as O'Brien (orange wig and all).
* On his CBS The Late Late Show, Ferguson suggested a remake of The Late Shift--the 1996 movie about Leno and Letterman's fight for The Tonight Show. His casting photos are pretty funny, ending with a dig at Carson Daly. (Ferguson's obviously learning from Letterman, who has been unmerciful in his dinging of The Carson.) Ferguson later referred to the NBC brass as "lying rat bastards"--pretty bold when you consider he may be hitting them up for a job once the dust from all this settles.