New York, NY (NBC) - Conan O'Brien is preparing for his last night as "Tonight Show" host. Conan said no....so NBC said go.
The network's cutting ties with "Tonight Show" host Conan O'Brien after he declined to push his show back a half hour to make room for Jay Leno's return to late night.
A couple of controversy-filled weeks conclude tonight, when O'Brien says farewell.
17 years ago, NBC took a chance on an unproven talent.
Last June, NBC rolled the dice again on Conan O'Brien, taking over for Jay Leno.
This time, it didn't work.
"We've made a business decision in the best interests of NBC Universal and NBC," said NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker.
That means turning back the clock.
NBC's ending their experiment with Jay Leno in prime time.
They're sending him back to "The Tonight Show" and O'Brien out the door with 33 million dollars.
"They went with the guy who they know will deliver a certain number of viewers on the tonight show, and that's Jay," said Stephen Battalgio of TV Guide.
Leno's back to the time slot he ruled for 15 years.
And O'Brien, who's enjoyed a controversy fueled ratings surge, is free to set up a new late night shop elsewhere.
"I think you'll see in six months, or possibly in January, that he will launch a new late night show on Fox," Battaglio said.
But, first there's the business of a final show tonight.
"I think viewers are going to see more emotions than anger or bitterness," said Battaglio.
It's a farewell that'll change the late night landscape.
O'Brien's very first Tonight Show guest, Will Ferrell, will be part of the final show, as will another one of his early guests, Tom Hanks.