We're only a scant few days away from one of the most anticipated television events of the year in the premiere of "Conan" on TBS. Conan O'Brien has been legally barred from being on television since his final send-off on "The Tonight Show" back on January 22, but he returns to late night comedy when his show kicks off on Monday, November 8 at 11 p.m. with guests Seth Rogen, Jack White and the winner of a contest they are hosting at the show's official Web site (at the moment, Jack Nicholson has a pretty large lead over the rest of the entrants).
It is nearly impossible to not know that O'Brien is returning, as TBS is putting the full court press on plugging his big return to television. They got an actual blimp to fly over baseball stadiums during TBS' coverage of the playoffs, and ads featuring O'Brien are everywhere. But that's sort of a great thing, because that means there has been a lot more insight into the totally insane, borderline criminal fiasco that ended with Jay Leno back in the host's chair on "The Tonight Show" and Conan becoming everybody's favorite tweeting, rocking, Internet-ruling underdog.
O'Brien is on the cover of the current issue of Rolling Stone. In the interview, O'Brien talks about a number of things, including how his "Legally Prohibited From Being Funny On Television Tour" saved him from the depression that set in after he exited "The Tonight Show."
But the real great read this weekend is the excerpt of the forthcoming book "The War For Late Night" currently running in Vanity Fair. A true behind-the-scenes account written by Bill Carter (the same guy who penned "The Late Shift: Letterman, Leno, and the Network Battle for the Night" back when Jay Leno was first making trouble after hours), the story takes an amazingly candid look at the conversations and arguments that went on behind the scenes. It even takes you to the moment when O'Brien decides that he has to walk away from "The Tonight Show."
In the meantime, you can catch "Episode Zero" of "Conan" this Monday, November 1 at the Team Coco Web site. They'll run through a rehearsal version of the show live on the Internet, which will give you the first chance to see what the show might look and sound like. The late night universe will be getting more interesting over the next few weeks, as everybody gets involved in trying to one-up one another, and the last man standing will be considered the king of late night.