The short-lived The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien came to an abrupt and highly publicized end almost eight and a half years ago. Since then, O’Brien took his shtick to TBS with Conan, which is about to undergo some major structural changes. His perceived “enemies” — former Tonight Show host Jay Leno and his sympathetic boss, then-NBC President and CEO Jeff Zucker — have also moved on to other things. (Leno hosts Jay Leno’s Garage on CNBC and Zucker now serves as President of CNN Worldwide.) The two sides have long since buried the hatchet publicly, but that doesn’t mean O’Brien is done talking about it.
Speaking with interviewer extraordinaire David Marchese, O’Brien claims, “I have a good perspective on how it happened” eight years later. People were “scared” at the executive level about other things, and simply “wanted to have all their options” in case things went south. Even so, the talk show host admitted he still takes some aspects of it “personally”:
Without getting into specifics, there were a few people who I felt were not being good human beings. But I see that what happened was an inevitable clusterfuck. I had a bad feeling the minute NBC said, “You’re going to go do The Tonight Show but Jay’s also going to be on at 10 doing a Tonight Show before your Tonight Show.” It’s like when the Bachelor can’t decide: All three of us were not going to fit in that hot tub.
Despite speaking about the matter at length, however, O’Brien reiterated the fact that he had long since given up being angry about it. He also refused to name names, outside if stating “there were a few people… not being good human beings.” And considering the very public animosity that was on display between O’Brien, Leno and Zucker at the time, it’s a safe bet that the later two are said “human beings.”