Sunday, September 16, 2007

Conan O´Brien

Conan Christopher O'Brien (born April 18, 1963) is an Emmy-winning American comedian, writer and television personality best known as host of NBC's late-night talk/variety show Late Night with Conan O'Brien.

Conan was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts, to Ruthe Reardon, an attorney, and Thomas Francis O’Brien, M.D. He has 5 siblings: Neal O'Brien (b. 1960); Luke O'Brien (attorney, b. 1961); Kate O'Brien (teacher, b. 1965); Jane O'Brien (writer-producer, Futurama, b. 1967); and Justin O'Brien (businessman, b. 1972). His third cousin is Denis Leary.

O'Brien excelled at English; he served as managing editor of his school newspaper and interned for Rep. Barney Frank.

After graduating from the Brookline High School as valedictorian, O'Brien entered Harvard University and, in his three upper-class years, lived in Mather House. Throughout his college career, he was a writer for the Harvard Lampoon humor magazine. During his sophomore and junior years, O'Brien served as the Lampoon's president, making him only the second person ever to serve as president twice, and the first person to have done it in 85 years. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1985 with a B.A. in History and Literature.

While attending Harvard, O'Brien was roommates with Damon Krukowski, who later became drummer for the indie band Galaxie 500. O'Brien had previously bought himself a drumkit, but had only recently given up playing it and instead earned his talent in playing the acoustic guitar. He lent it to Krukowski, whom he knew would get more use out of it. O'Brien's drum kit can be heard on many of Galaxie 500's early recordings.

Television writer
O'Brien moved to Los Angeles after graduation to join the writing staff of HBO's Not Necessarily the News. He spent two years with that show, and performed regularly with improvisational groups like The Groundlings. He also acted in corporate infomercials to earn money during this period.

After Not Necessarily the News, O'Brien partnered with Harvard classmate Greg Daniels (who went on to be the executive producer of King of The Hill and The Office) as staff writers on the short-lived Wilton North Report for Fox Broadcasting. He also occasionally served as that show's live audience warm-up person. Wilton North, with former Letterman producer Barry Sand as executive producer, lasted only four weeks, and is noteworthy mostly as the show that bumped the Arsenio Hall-hosted Late Show off the air.[citation needed]

In January 1988, Saturday Night Live's executive producer Lorne Michaels hired O'Brien as a writer. During his 3 years on SNL he wrote such recurring sketches as "Mr. Short-Term Memory" and "The Girl Watchers," the latter of which was first performed by Tom Hanks and Jon Lovitz. O'Brien also wrote the sketch "Nude Beach", a sketch in which the word "penis" was said or sung at least 42 times.

While on a writers' strike from Saturday Night Live following the 1987-1988 season, O'Brien put on an improvisational comedy revue in Chicago with fellow SNL writers Bob Odenkirk and Robert Smigel called Happy Happy Good Show. While living in Chicago O'Brien briefly was roommates with Jeff Garlin and lived a few blocks away from Wrigley Field.[citation needed]

In 1989, O'Brien and his fellow SNL writers received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy or Variety Series.

O'Brien, like many SNL writers, occasionally appeared as an extra in sketches, including a role as a doorman in a sketch in which Tom Hanks was inducted into the SNL "Five Timers Club" for hosting his fifth episode. Years later, when Hanks was a guest on Late Night, O'Brien showed the clip and jokingly claimed their appearance together was the source of all of Hanks' subsequent success.

From 1991 to 1994, O'Brien was a writer and producer for The Simpsons, credited as writer or cowriter of four episodes Of all the episodes he wrote while writing for The Simpsons, he considers "Marge vs. the Monorail" to be his favorite. Years later, in his speech given at Class Day at Harvard in 2000, O'Brien credited The Simpsons with "saving" him, a reference to the career slump he was experiencing prior to his hiring for that show. As of 2004, Conan's office at The Simpsons was being used as storage.

Late Night
O'Brien closes out his audition on the set of the The Tonight Show with Jay Leno at NBC Burbank Studio 1On April 25, 1993, Lorne Michaels suggested O'Brien try out to be David Letterman's successor as host of Late Night with David Letterman, with Andy Richter signed on to be his sidekick. Conan auditioned on the set of The Tonight Show, where he interviewed Mimi Rogers and Jason Alexander. O'Brien resigned his position on The Simpsons, despite the fact that his contract had not expired.

Premiering on September 13, Late Night with Conan O'Brien received generally unfavorable critical reviews for the first 2 to 3 years after its debut. O'Brien himself, an almost total unknown among the general public before being named host, was seen by many as not being worthy of the program. NBC even poked fun at this perception in a radio ad which aired shortly before the show's debut and had Conan relaying an anecdote where someone recognized him on the street and said, "Look, honey, there's the guy who doesn't deserve his own show!" Another source of criticism was the fact that Conan himself appeared to be very nervous and awkward during the show's early days. As a self-deprecating nod to this, the original opening sequence for Late Night With Conan O'Brien was animated and featured a caricature of Conan who sweated and pulled at his collar nervously. O'Brien was a guest on The Howard Stern Show, where Stern and his crew mocked him by throwing a going-away party for him, brought on by newspaper reports that NBC was already looking for someone to replace O'Brien.

The show remained on multi-week renewal cycles while NBC decided its fate. By 1996-97, O'Brien's writing and comedic style was thought to have improved, and he began to develop a growing fan base, especially with high school and college students, as well as the respect of critics and his peers. O'Brien would later poke fun at the first three years of the show when on his 10th Anniversary Special, Mr. T appeared to give O'Brien a gold necklace with a giant "7" on it. When Conan tried to point out that he's actually been on the air for ten years, Mr. T responded, "I know that, fool...but you've only been funny for seven!"

Since then, O'Brien and the Late Night writing team have consistently been nominated for an Emmy Award for Best Writing in a Comedy or Variety Series, though they have not won as of 2006. In 1997, 2000, 2002, 2003, and 2004 he and the Late Night writing staff won the Writers Guild Award for Best Writing in a Comedy/Variety Series.
In 2001, he formed his own television production company, Conaco, which has since shared in the production credits for Late Night.
On the first episode after September 11th, O'Brien went out of character and told a story of how he went to pray for the first time in eight years, the previous time was after he was announced as the host of Late Night. O'Brien was noticeably shaken up, however he did not cry on the air. He talked about a need to have faith and even said "God Bless" at the end of the show.

A promotional poster for Finnish tabloid Ilta-Sanomat, featuring Conan and TarjaAfter meeting Finnish actor/director Lauri Nurkse on October 11, 2005, O'Brien discovered that he was popular in Finland, and began a long running joke that he resembles the first female President of Finland, Tarja Halonen. After joking about this for several months (which led to the reoccurring segment "Conan O'Brien Hates My Homeland" and his highly advantageous endorsement of her campaign [including campaign ads he made on her behalf, many people think Conan helped Tarja considerably on her presidential campaign]), O'Brien traveled to Finland and appeared on several television shows, and met President Halonen. The trip was filmed and aired as a special.

Conan ad libbed the fictional website name "" on December 4, 2006, after a sketch about the fictional manatee mascot and its inappropriate web-cam site. NBC opted to purchase the website domain name for $159, since the website did not previously exist. The network was concerned that someone might register the domain name and post content with which NBC would not wish to be associated, or that people would get upset and sue NBC when they found out the website is fictional. NBC now owns the rights to for 10 years, as per Conan O'Brien. According to Conan, it was decided that, since NBC owned the name, they might as well create the website. Late Night has since developed an actual website, which now has received millions of hits, reaching 4 million page views in four days. People send in "horny manatee" artwork, poems, and other content. According to the Alexa website ranking system, has had over 10 million web hits.

As of October 2006, Late Night with Conan O'Brien had for eleven years consistently attracted an audience averaging about 2.5 million viewers.

In 2006, Jay Leno named Conan as his replacement when he leaves the "Tonight Show" in 2009. Leno stated on the show that he had done this to avoid a repeat of the controversy and hard feelings that resulted when he was chosen by NBC to host the Tonight Show over David Letterman. According to speculation, NBC had asked Leno to do this so Conan, who was a vital asset to the network, wouldn't jump ship for a more lucrative offer. It was rumored that at the time of the announcement ABC was talking to Conan about possibly replacing Jimmy Kimmel.

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