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October 25, 2014

Why Wasn't Conan in 'Late Show' Super Bowl Ad?

by Scott Harris, posted Feb 8th 2010 11:45AM
It was one of the biggest surprises of the Super Bowl: embattled late night host Jay Leno appearing alongside his biggest rival and harshest critic, David Letterman, separated only by the presence of television ambassador extraordinaire Oprah Winfrey. But while the ad had fans buzzing, it also had them wondering about the elephant in the room -- a particularly tall, orange haired elephant.

In other words, where was Conan O'Brien?It was one of the biggest surprises of the Super Bowl: embattled late night host Jay Leno appearing alongside his biggest rival and harshest critic, David Letterman, separated only by the presence of television ambassador extraordinaire Oprah Winfrey. But while the ad had fans buzzing, it also had them wondering about the elephant in the room -- a particularly tall, orange haired elephant.

In other words, where was Conan O'Brien?

Now we know the answer: According to The Wrap, the CBS executives behind the commercial wanted O'Brien to appear in the spot after all, but were unable to land the former 'Tonight Show' host, who has become a cult icon in the wake of his ouster from NBC's flagship series last month. The reason? Not bitterness over his untimely exit but merely a scheduling issue.

"There was an initial thought of having Dave, Jay and Conan together in the spot," 'Late Show with David Letterman' producer Rob Burnett told The Wrap. But unfortunately for Super Bowl fans, O'Brien was busy wrapping up his run on 'The Tonight Show.'

"It wasn't as if they even said no," Burnett said. "I just think they weren't in a position to consider it all."

Leno, on the other hand, apparently jumped at the chance to help repair his image and his relationship with Letterman heading into their renewed head-to-head rivalry; the anvil-chinned host even canceled the February 2 taping of 'The Jay Leno Show' in order to fly coast-to-coast to film the 18-second commercial.

If halting production on a multi-million dollar television series in order to film a promo for your biggest rival seems like an odd business practice, well, that's the state of NBC these days following their extended late night implosion. But though it may have been counter-intuitive, the ploy appears to have worked, as the spot is receiving at least some positive buzz around the internet water cooler this morning.

And that may be the first positive thing to come out this mess.

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