Conan O'Brien says has no regrets in Leno debacle

Fri Apr 30, 2010 5:41pm EDT
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Comedian Conan O'Brien says he has no regrets on any of his decisions in January when NBC pulled the plug on his short-lived stint as host of "The Tonight Show" and installed Jay Leno in his place.

In a second set of transcripts from his interview with television news program "60 Minutes" -- O'Brien's first talk with a reporter since leaving the "Tonight Show" -- the comic said he is "mostly very happy" right now.

He said people on the street tell him, "Hey partner, you got screwed." But O'Brien does not believe that.

"I always tell them, 'No, I didn't. I didn't get screwed. I'm -- I'm fine. It just -- it didn't work out.'"

O'Brien quit as the host of the NBC network's "Tonight Show," a long and popular talk program on U.S. late-night TV, in January just seven months after taking the reins from Leno.

Leno had hosted the "Tonight Show" for 17 years before moving to his new "The Jay Leno Show" in an earlier time period. But the move proved to be a blunder, and the network moved Leno's new show to a late-night period, pushing O'Brien's "Tonight Show" to a later start time.

The change caused a storm of bad publicity. O'Brien openly criticized NBC on its own airwaves saying, among many things, NBC had caused the "destruction" of the "Tonight Show."

He eventually left with a $45 million severance deal, signed an agreement to mount a new talk show on cable TV network TBS, and is currently on a live comedy tour.

"I don't regret one decision I made in that week and a half period," O'Brien told "60 Minutes" in an interview airing on May 2. "I wish it had ended differently. But, I'm fine."   Continued...

<p>Talk show host Conan O'Brien hosts the 54th annual Emmy Awards in Los Angeles September 22, 2002. REUTERS/Adrees Latif</p>