Conan feels liberated after year of tumult

Wed Jan 12, 2011 6:17pm EST
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Conan O'Brien said on Wednesday that his tumultuous past year has given him a new lease on life, freeing him to be sillier and more spontaneous on his new late-night TV talk show than he was in the past.

"There (are) a bunch of things that I wouldn't have conceived of doing a year ago because I hadn't been through this process," he said.

A year after quitting "The Tonight Show" in a bitter showdown with late-night king Jay Leno, O'Brien told journalist that he has no plans to sit down and talk with Leno because there is nothing to learned from last year's debacle.

"We all know what happened. Life is short, and I'm really happy here. I don't think about it too much, and I'm sure he (Leno) is busy," he said.

In January 2010, O'Brien was effectively forced out as host of NBC's late-night flagship "The Tonight Show" after he refused to move the show back to accommodate Leno following the failure of Leno's own, new primetime show. Leno was later reinstated as host of "The Tonight Show".

Leno was cast as the villain while O'Brien's ardent fan base supported him. His plight came to symbolize big corporate entertainment (NBC) chasing dollars over creativity (O'Brien).

The symbolism and media attention, O'Brien said, often made him feel ill-at-ease. "My only goal is for people to look at me as an entertainer. Standing for something more is something I am suspicious of, and uncomfortable with," he said on Wednesday.

After the "Tonight Show" debacle, O'Brien embarked on a nationwide comedy tour and finally returned to TV in November on cable channel TBS with a new talk show "Conan." His career turnabout, according to TBS, has turned around again.   Continued...

<p>Conan O'Brien and Andy Richter during the premiere of "Conan" on TBS at the Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, November 8, 2010. REUTERS/TBS/Handout</p>