O'Brien at SXSW for the premiere of Conan O'Brien Can't Stop in March 2011
|Birth name||Conan Christopher O'Brien|
April 18, 1963 |
Brookline, Massachusetts, US
|Genres||Improvisational comedy, sketch comedy, physical comedy, surreal humor, self-deprecation|
|Influences||Johnny Carson, David Letterman, Robert Smigel, Pee-Wee Herman, Ernie Kovacs, Carl Reiner, Sid Caesar|
|Influenced||Jack McBrayer, Amy Poehler, Pierre Bernard, Pete Holmes|
|Notable works and roles|
Conan Christopher O'Brien (born April 18, 1963) is an American television host, comedian, writer, producer, musician, and voice actor. He is best known for hosting several late-night talk shows, the most recent of which, Conan, premiered on American cable television station TBS in 2010. O'Brien was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, and was raised in an Irish Catholic family. He served as president of the Harvard Lampoon while attending Harvard University, and was a writer for the sketch comedy series Not Necessarily the News.
After writing for several comedy shows in Los Angeles, he joined the writing staff of Saturday Night Live. O'Brien was a writer and producer for The Simpsons for two seasons until he was commissioned by NBC to take over David Letterman's position as host of Late Night in 1993. A virtual unknown to the public, O'Brien's initial time on Late Night tenure received unfavorable reviews and remained on a multiweek renewal cycle during its early years. The show generally improved over time and was highly regarded by the time of his departure in 2009. Afterwards, O'Brien relocated from New York to Los Angeles to host his own incarnation of The Tonight Show for seven months until network politics prompted a host change in 2010.
Known for his spontaneous hosting style, which has been characterized as "awkward, self-deprecating humor", O'Brien's late-night programs combine the "lewd and wacky with more elegant, narrative-driven short films (remotes)". He has hosted Conan since 2010 and has also hosted such events as the Emmy Awards and Christmas in Washington. O'Brien has been the subject of a documentary, Conan O'Brien Can't Stop (2011), and has also hosted a 32-city live comedy tour.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Career
- 2.1 Saturday Night Live (1987–1991)
- 2.2 The Simpsons (1991–1993)
- 2.3 Late Night (1993–2009)
- 2.4 The Tonight Show (2009–2010)
- 2.5 After The Tonight Show
- 2.6 Conan (2010–present)
- 2.7 Television writer/producer (2002–present)
- 2.8 Voice work and guest appearances
- 2.9 Emmy host
- 2.10 Commercials and product placements
- 2.11 Comedy and mannerisms
- 2.12 Nicknames
- 3 Personal life
- 4 Filmography
- 5 Awards and nominations
- 6 References
- 7 Bibliography
- 8 Further reading
- 9 External links
O'Brien was born in Brookline, Massachusetts. His father, Thomas Francis O'Brien, is a physician, epidemiologist, and professor of medicine at Harvard. His mother, Ruth O'Brien (née Reardon), is an attorney and partner at the Boston firm Ropes & Gray. He is the third of six children. O'Brien's family is Irish Catholic; some of his Irish ancestors immigrated before the American Civil War. In a Late Night episode, O'Brien paid a visit to County Kerry, Ireland, where his ancestors originated.
O'Brien attended Brookline High School, where he served as the managing editor of the school newspaper, The Sagamore. In his senior year, O'Brien won the National Council of Teachers of English writing contest with his short story, "To Bury the Living". After graduating as valedictorian in 1981, he entered Harvard University. At Harvard, O'Brien lived in Holworthy Hall during his freshman year and Mather House during his three upper-class years. He concentrated in history and literature and graduated magna cum laude in 1985. His senior thesis concerned the use of children as symbols in the works of William Faulkner and Flannery O'Connor. Throughout college, O'Brien was a writer for the Harvard Lampoon humor magazine. He also briefly served as the drummer in a band called "The Bad Clams". During his sophomore and junior years, he served as the Lampoon's president. At this time, O'Brien's future boss at NBC, Jeff Zucker, was serving as President of the school's newspaper The Harvard Crimson.
Saturday Night Live (1987–1991)
O'Brien moved to Los Angeles after graduation to join the writing staff of HBO's Not Necessarily the News. He was also a writer on the short-lived The Wilton North Report. He spent two years with that show and performed regularly with improvisational groups, including The Groundlings. In January 1988, Saturday Night Live's executive producer, Lorne Michaels, hired O'Brien as a writer. During his three years on Saturday Night Live (SNL), he wrote such recurring sketches as "Mr. Short-Term Memory" and "The Girl Watchers"; the latter was first performed by Tom Hanks and Jon Lovitz. O'Brien also co-wrote the sketch "Nude Beach" with Robert Smigel, in which the word "penis" was said or sung at least 42 times. While on a writers' strike from Saturday Night Live following the 1987–88 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 roomed with Jeff Garlin. 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; his most notable appearance was as a doorman in a sketch in which Tom Hanks was inducted into the SNL "Five-Timers Club" for hosting his fifth episode. O'Brien returned to host the show in 2001 during its 26th season. O'Brien and Robert Smigel wrote the television pilot for Lookwell starring Adam West, which aired on NBC in 1991. The pilot never went to series, but it became a cult hit. It was later screened at The Other Network, a festival of unaired TV pilots produced by Un-Cabaret; it featured an extended interview with O'Brien and was rerun in 2002 on the Trio network.
Things changed for O'Brien in 1991, when in quick succession, an engagement fell through; Lookwell was not picked up; and, burned out, he quit Saturday Night Live. "I told Lorne Michaels I couldn’t come back to work and I just needed to do something else," O'Brien recalled. "I had no plan whatsoever. I was literally in this big transition phase in my life where I decided, I’ll just walk around New York City, and an idea will come to me." Mike Reiss and Al Jean, then dual showrunners of The Simpsons, called O'Brien and offered him a job. The series was notorious in the writing community at the time; O'Brien recalls "everyone wanted to be on that show, but they never hired." O'Brien was one of the first hires after the show's original crew. With the help of old Groundlings friend Lisa Kudrow, O'Brien purchased an apartment in Beverly Hills. He and Kudrow became involved as well, and Kudrow believed he should begin performing rather than writing. O'Brien disagreed, feeling that Kudrow was being overly flattering and that asserting he was happy as a writer. 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 being hired for the show.
The Simpsons (1991–1993)
From 1991 to 1993, O'Brien was a writer and producer for The Simpsons. When O'Brien first arrived at the Fox lot, they temporarily gave him writer Jeff Martin's office. O'Brien was nervous and self-conscious, feeling that he would embarrass himself in front of what he regarded as an intimidating collection of writers. O'Brien would pitch characters in their voices as he thought that was the norm until Reiss informed him that no one did such. He fit in quickly, commanding control of the room frequently; Josh Weinstein called it a "ten-hour Conan show, nonstop." According to John Ortved, one of his fellow writers ventured that if Conan hadn’t left to do Late Night, he was a shoo-in to take over as showrunner on The Simpsons.
When not contributing to others' scripts, O'Brien managed to craft what are regarded as some of the series' most memorable and finest episodes: "Marge vs. the Monorail" and "Homer Goes to College". Generally, critics, fans and even those who worked on the show agree that its sensibilities changed following "Marge vs. the Monorail." The show was initially a highly realistic family sitcom; after O'Brien's debut, the show took a rapid shift in the direction of the surreal. Along with those episodes, he has sole writing credits on "New Kid on the Block" and "Treehouse of Horror IV," on which he wrote the episode wraparounds. Wallace Wolodarsky described a "room character" Conan put on for the writers: "Conan used to do this thing called the Nervous Writer that involved him opening a can of Diet Coke and then nervously pitching a joke. He would spray Diet Coke all over himself, and that was always a source of endless amusement among us." Occasionally, fellow writers from the show would stop by O'Brien's Beverly Hills apartment.
Meanwhile, Late Night host David Letterman was preparing to leave, prompting executive producer Lorne Michaels to search for a new host. Michaels approached O'Brien to produce; then-agent Gavin Polone stressed that O'Brien wanted to perform, rather than produce. He arranged with Michaels that O'Brien would do a test audition on the stage of The Tonight Show. Jason Alexander and Mimi Rogers were the guests, and the audience was composed of Simpsons writers. Wolodarksky recalled the experience: "Seeing this friend of yours, this guy that you worked with, walk out from behind that curtain and deliver a monologue was like something you could only dream up that you couldn’t ever imagine actually happening." The performance was beamed by satellite to New York, where Lorne Michaels and NBC executives watched. O'Brien was picked as the new host of Late Night on April 26, 1993. As the writers headed to the voice record for "Homer Goes to College", O'Brien received a phone call from Polone informing him of the decision. "He was passed out facedown into this horrible shag carpet. He was just quiet and comatose down there on that carpet," recalled postproduction supervisor Michael Mendel. "I remember looking at him and saying, 'Wow. Your life is about to change, in a really dramatic way.'"
Fox, however, would not let O'Brien out of his contract. Eventually, NBC and O'Brien would split the cost to get him out of the contract. After O'Brien's departure, the writers at The Simpsons would watch videotaped episodes of Late Night at lunch the day following their midnight broadcast and analyze them. During his time at The Simpsons, O'Brien also had a side project working with Smigel on the script for a musical film based on the "Hans and Franz" sketch from Saturday Night Live, but the film was never produced.
Late Night (1993–2009)
Late Night with Conan O'Brien, originating from Studio 6A at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, premiered September 13, 1993 to unfavorable reviews from contemporary critics. This reception was not completely unsurprising; O'Brien wrote a self-deprecating New York Times piece titled "O'Brien Flops!" on the day of the show's premiere. Critics attacked O'Brien: Tom Shales of The Washington Post suggested that "the host resume his previous identity, Conan O'Blivion." Generally, critics viewed O'Brien as nervous and fidgety on-camera, and that he was "too smart, too East Coast, too sophisticated, too young and even too tall to be successful." The show was constantly at risk for cancellation; at one low point in 1994, NBC threatened to put him on a week-to-week contract. Executives were anxious to replace him with Greg Kinnear, who followed O'Brien with Later at 1:30am. Interns filled empty seats in the audience while affiliates began to inquire about replacement hosts. In one installment after a short stretch of reruns, sidekick Andy Richter described his vacation activities as follows: "I sat back and reminded myself what it's like to be unemployed." The in-joke referenced the rumors floating in the trades that NBC was near canceling the program.
Things would improve slowly. Banter between O'Brien and Richter improved, and sketches grew in popularity ("If They Mated", "Desk Drive", "In the Year 2000"). A reliable staple involved a TV screen, lowered behind O'Brien's desk and displaying a still photo of news figure. The lips and voice of these characters — frequently a party-crazed hillbilly interpretation of Bill Clinton — were supplied by writing partner Robert Smigel. A turning point was David Letterman's February 1994 appearance. "It was a morale boost," said O'Brien. "I'm thinking, If the guy who created the 12:30 thing comes on and says we're smart and funny, let's go." The show went through a temporary wobble in January 1995 when Robert Smigel, feeling burned out, quit as head writer. The show's quality improved slowly over time, and most credit O'Brien's growing comedic performance. Within a year, a comedic formula began to arise: the show would combine the lewd and wacky with a more elegant, narrative-driven remotes. Regular characters would typically include a "Masturbating Bear" and a famous remote found Conan visit a historic, Civil War-era baseball league. That piece was one of O'Brien's personal favorites, later remarking, "When I leave this earth, at the funeral, just show this, because this pretty much says who I'm all about."
O'Brien's audience, largely young and male (a coveted demographic), grew steadily and the show began to best competitors in the ratings, which it would continue to do for 15 seasons. In the early days of the Internet, fans launched unofficial websites, compiling precise summaries of each episode. Even Tom Shales was a convert: he called the show "one of the most amazing transformations in television history." Beginning in 1996, O'Brien and the Late Night writing team were nominated annually for the Emmy Award for Best Writing in a Comedy or Variety Series, winning the award for the first and only time in 2007. 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 subsequently shared in the production credits for Late Night.
As of October 2005[update], Late Night with Conan O'Brien had for eleven years consistently attracted an audience averaging about 2.5 million viewers. The apotheosis of the Late Night remotes centered on the realization in 2006 that O’Brien bears a striking resemblance to the (female) president of Finland. “We took the show to Helsinki for five days,” O’Brien recalled, “where we were embraced like a national treasure.”
On February 20, 2009, NBC aired the last episode of Late Night with Conan O'Brien. The show consisted of a compilation of previous Late Night clips and included a surprise appearance by former sidekick Andy Richter. Will Ferrell, John Mayer, and the White Stripes also appeared. O'Brien ended the episode by destroying the set with an axe, handing out the pieces of the set to the audience, and thanking a list of people who helped him get to that point in his career. Among those thanked were Lorne Michaels, David Letterman, Jay Leno, and O'Brien's wife and children.
The Colbert / O'Brien / Stewart mock feud
During the writers' strike in 2008, O'Brien staged a mock feud with Comedy Central's Jon Stewart (of The Daily Show) and Stephen Colbert (of The Colbert Report) over a dispute about which of the three were responsible for giving a "bump" to Mike Huckabee's campaign to become the Republican presidential nominee. This feud crossed over all three shows during the 2007–08 Writers Guild of America strike.
The Tonight Show (2009–2010)
In 2004, O'Brien negotiated a new contract with NBC. As part of the deal, O'Brien would take over The Tonight Show from Jay Leno in 2009. O'Brien was a guest on Jay Leno's final episode of The Tonight Show. On June 1, 2009, Will Ferrell became Conan's first Tonight Show guest on the couch and Pearl Jam appeared as his first musical guest.
During the taping of the Friday, September 25, 2009, episode of The Tonight Show, O'Brien suffered from a mild concussion after he slipped and hit his head while running a race as part of a comedy sketch with guest Teri Hatcher. He was examined at a hospital and released the same day. A rerun was aired that night, but O'Brien returned to work the following Monday and poked fun at the incident.
Departure from The Tonight Show
On Thursday, January 7, 2010, NBC executive Jeff Zucker met with Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien to discuss how to get Leno out of prime time, where his ratings were lackluster, and back into late night, where O'Brien's ratings had collapsed before Leno's prime time series began. A proposal was made that would see O'Brien remain as host of The Tonight Show, which would be moved to 12:05 am with Leno hosting a 30-minute show at 11:35 pm On January 10, NBC Universal Television Entertainment Chairman Jeff Gaspin confirmed that The Jay Leno Show would indeed end at the start of the Winter Olympics on February 12, 2010, and be moved to 11:35 pm following the Olympics coverage. Sources familiar with the situation told the New York Post that O'Brien was unhappy with NBC's plan.
On January 12, O'Brien released this statement: "I sincerely believe that delaying The Tonight Show into the next day to accommodate another comedy program will seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting. The Tonight Show at 12:05 simply isn’t The Tonight Show." On January 21, 2010, it was announced that Conan had reached a deal with NBC that would see him exit The Tonight Show the next day. The deal also granted him $45 million, of which $12 million was designated for distribution to his staff, who had moved with Conan to Los Angeles from New York when he left Late Night.
The final Tonight Show with Conan aired January 22, 2010, and featured guests Tom Hanks, Steve Carell (who did an exit interview and shredded Conan's ID badge), Neil Young (singing "Long May You Run"), and Will Ferrell. For Ferrell's appearance, Conan played guitar with the band and Ferrell sang "Free Bird" while reprising his SNL cowbell. Ferrell's wife, Viveca Paulin, together with Ben Harper, Beck, and ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons, also joined the band for this final performance.
Jay Leno returned to The Tonight Show following NBC's coverage of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. Under the $45 million deal with NBC, Conan was allowed to start working for another network as soon as September 2010. Conan's rumored next networks ranged anywhere from Fox to Comedy Central.
After The Tonight Show
On February 8, 2010, it was reported that O'Brien was attempting to sell his Central Park West penthouse in New York with an asking price of $35 million. He had purchased the apartment in 2007 for $10 million. Two years earlier, O'Brien had purchased a home in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles for over $10.5 million. Some industry insiders have speculated that O'Brien had chosen to stay on the west coast in order to facilitate a return to late night television and because he did not want to put his children through another move.
On February 24, 2010, O'Brien attracted media attention for starting a Twitter account. His tweets, although primarily jokes, amounted to his first public statements since leaving The Tonight Show one month earlier. After about one hour, O'Brien's subscriber list had rocketed to over 30,000 members, and approximately 30 minutes later he was on the brink of passing 50,000 followers, already 20,000 more than the verified @jayleno account. After 24 hours, O'Brien had well over 300,000 followers. In late May 2010, he surpassed the one million mark for number of Twitter followers, and as of February 2014[update] he has over ten million followers.
O'Brien has been named to the 2010 Time 100, a list compiled by TIME of the 100 most influential people in the world as voted on by readers. After being prohibited from making television appearances of any kind until May, O'Brien spoke about the Tonight Show conflict on the CBS newsmagazine 60 Minutes on May 2, 2010. During the interview with Steve Kroft, O'Brien said the situation felt "like a marriage breaking up suddenly, violently, quickly. And I was just trying to figure out what happened." He also said he "absolutely" expected NBC to give him more of a chance and that, if in Jay Leno's position, he would not have come back to The Tonight Show. However, Conan said he did not feel he got shafted. "It's crucial to me that anyone seeing this, if they take anything away from this, it's I'm fine. I'm doing great," said O'Brien. "I hope people still find me comedically absurd and ridiculous. And I don't regret anything."
The Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour
On March 11, 2010, O'Brien announced via his Twitter account that he would embark on a 30-city live tour beginning April 12, 2010, entitled "The Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour". Co-host Andy Richter, along with members of the former Tonight Show Band, joined O'Brien on the tour. Max Weinberg, however, was not able to join, except for a guest appearance at one of Conan's New York City shows. VIP tickets for $695 offered the opportunity to meet O'Brien in person. On the same day, teamcoco.com—an apparently official website—was launched.
On April 12, 2010, O'Brien opened his two-month comedy tour in Eugene, Oregon, with a crowd of 2,500 and no TV cameras. The tour traveled through America's Northwest and Canada before moving on to larger cities, including Los Angeles and New York City, where he performed on the campuses that house both of the NBC-owned studios he formerly occupied. The tour ended in Atlanta on June 14. With ticket prices starting at $40, "The Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour" was effectively sold out.
On April 12, 2010, just hours before the start of his tour in Eugene, Oregon, O'Brien announced that he would host a new show on cable station TBS. The show debuted on November 8, 2010, and airs Monday through Thursday beginning at 11:00 pm ET/10:00 pm CT. O'Brien's addition moved Lopez Tonight with George Lopez back one hour to midnight ET/11:00 pm CT. Refusing at first to do to Lopez what had happened to him at NBC, O'Brien agreed to join the network after Lopez called to persuade him to come to TBS. In Canada, CTV will air the show and in Turkey, CNBC-e will air the show.
On September 1, 2010, O'Brien announced via his Twitter account and Team Coco YouTube page that the title of his new show on TBS would simply be Conan. TBS has recently extended the show through November 2015.
Television writer/producer (2002–present)
In 2004, O'Brien apologized to Canadians for engaging in Quebec bashing, something which some felt reflected prejudice against Francophones. On March 7, 2006, NBC announced a new adventure/comedy series entitled Andy Barker, P.I., starring O'Brien's former sidekick, Andy Richter. O'Brien was executive producer and co-wrote the pilot. After six episodes and low ratings, the show was canceled despite being named by Entertainment Weekly as one of the Top Ten Shows of 2007. USA Network has handed out a 90-minute, cast-contingent pilot order to the medical-themed Operating Instructions from O'Brien's production banner. O'Brien will serve as an executive producer through his Conaco label. The script comes from Just Shoot Me veterans Judd Pillot and John Peaslee who will also executive produce." NBC ordered two pilots from Conaco in January 2010, the one-hour courtroom drama, Outlaw, and a half-hour comedy. Outlaw was produced in eight episodes and premiered on September 15, 2010.
Voice work and guest appearances
O'Brien's first guest appearance after beginning his late-night career was on the show he used to write for, The Simpsons. He played himself in the season five episode "Bart Gets Famous", interviewing Bart Simpson during his rise to fame as a catchphrase comedian. The episode was produced after O'Brien's audition to replace David Letterman, but before he was hired for the show. O'Brien recorded his part after his own show went on the air, though he believed his show would be canceled by the time "Bart Gets Famous" aired. In 2006, he voiced himself in a short South Park scene as part of the opening of the 2006 Emmy Awards. In 2005, he provided the voice of Robert Todd Lincoln in the audio book version of Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell.
O'Brien has made multiple voice appearances on the Adult Swim series Robot Chicken, including the specials Robot Chicken: Star Wars, and Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode II as the voice of the bounty hunter Zuckuss. On the TV show 30 Rock, O'Brien is depicted as an ex-boyfriend of lead character Liz Lemon, who works in the same building. In the episode "Tracy Does Conan," Conan appears as himself, awkwardly reunited with Lemon and coerced by network executive Jack Donaghy into having the character Tracy Jordan on Late Night, despite having been assaulted in Jordan's previous appearance.
O'Brien made an appearance on Futurama in the second-season episode "Xmas Story". O'Brien plays himself as a head in a jar and still alive in the year 3000. O'Brien performs a stand-up routine at a futuristic ski lodge while being heckled by Bender the robot.
O'Brien also made a cameo appearance on the U.S. version of The Office. In the episode "Valentine's Day", Michael believes that he spots former SNL cast member, Tina Fey, but has actually mistaken another woman for her. In the meantime, Conan has a quick walk-on and the camera crew informs Michael, when he returns from talking to the Tina Fey lookalike.
In January 2010, O'Brien appeared in The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special – In 3-D! On Ice! to honor the show he had written for in the early 1990s.
O'Brien created a superhero character with veteran DC Comics animator Bruce Timm during one episode of Conan. Named "The Flaming C", the superhero bears a likeness to O'Brien, with a typically muscular superhero body and costume with chest insignia, but also with idiosyncrasies arbitrarily suggested by O'Brien like an oven mitt, a jai alai glove, marijuana leaf buckle, golf shoes, sock garters and fishnet stockings. O'Brien later aired a clip in which the character appears in Young Justice.
Commercials and product placements
According to Marketing Evolutions, the company that produces Q Scores measuring the familiarity and appeal of celebrities and brands, almost 74% of U.S. consumers are familiar with O'Brien. In spite of that high score, O'Brien hasn't done many commercials for corporate America; two recent examples are a 2009 appearance in a Super Bowl XLIII commercial for Bud Light, and one for American Express, which debuted on the same day as Conan. He donated his proceeds from the Super Bowl commercial to the Fresh Air Fund, a charity which sends inner-city New York children to the country for vacations. According to The Wall Street Journal, O'Brien was paid more than one million dollars to do the American Express commercial, which required him to spend three days in Jaipur, India filming it.
While O'Brien has done few commercials, he "does do plenty of promoting, weaving product pitches into his show"; he has said "it's increasingly incumbent to help with tie-ins [but] if it can't be funny, I'd rather go hungry."
Comedy and mannerisms
Conan acquired the nickname "Coco" after its use in the first "Twitter Tracker" sketch during the second episode of his Tonight Show run. Guest Tom Hanks used the nickname during his subsequent interview, even getting the audience to chant it. In reaction to the moniker, Conan remarked to Hanks in jest, "If that catches on, I'll sue you."
In a March 23, 2011, interview with WWE Champion The Miz on Conan, The Miz dubbed Conan "The Ginja Ninja", a reference to Conan's red hair and the fact that he came back fighting to get his new late-night talk show. A week later, "Team Ginja Ninja" T-shirts were available on TeamCoco.com.
O'Brien met Elizabeth Ann 'Liza' Powel in 2000, when she appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brien in an advertising skit involving Foote, Cone & Belding, where she worked as senior copywriter. The couple dated for nearly 18 months before their 2002 marriage in Powel's hometown of Seattle. O'Brien and Powel have a daughter, Neve (born in 2003) and a son, Beckett (born in 2005). O'Brien often affirms his Irish Catholic heritage on his show. On a 2009 episode of Inside the Actors Studio, he stated that ancestors from both sides of his family moved to America from Ireland starting in the 1850s, subsequently marrying only other Irish Catholics, and that his lineage is thus 100% Irish Catholic.
He has been a staunch Democrat since casting his first vote for President in 1984 for Walter Mondale, although he considers himself a moderate on the political spectrum. O'Brien's longtime friend and former dormmate in Mather House at Harvard is Father Paul B. O' Brien, with whom he founded Labels Are For Jars, an antihunger organization based in Lawrence, Massachusetts, and helped open the Cor Unum meal center in 2006. The two are not related.
In January 2008, after his show was put on hold for two months owing to the strike by the Writers Guild of America, he reemerged on late-night TV sporting a beard, which guest Tom Brokaw described as making him look like "a draft dodger from the Civil War." After leaving The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien on Jan. 22, 2010, O'Brien again grew a beard, which he kept until May 2, 2011, when it was partially shaved on the set of his TBS talk show, Conan, by Will Ferrell with battery-operated clippers (and completely shaved off-screen by a professional barber). The event was dubbed on the show as "Beardocalypse," and included a contest for fan-submitted artwork.
O'Brien purchased a $10.5-million mansion in Brentwood, Los Angeles, California, to prepare for his move there in 2009 from New York City to host The Tonight Show at Universal Studios Hollywood. As part of a long-running gag, he brought his 1992 Ford Taurus SHO with him to California, showcasing it on both the inaugural episodes of The Tonight Show and Conan.
On October 21, 2011, O'Brien was ordained as a minister by the Universal Life Church Monastery, allowing him to perform a same-sex marriage while back in New York (where gay marriage is legal) to tape a week's worth of shows. The wedding, between a member of O'Brien's staff and his partner, was held on the stage of the Beacon Theatre on November 3, 2011, and broadcast on Conan.
Victim of stalking
It was reported that since September 2006, O'Brien had allegedly been stalked by Father David Ajemian of the Archdiocese of Boston, who, despite multiple warnings to stop, had been sending O'Brien letters signed as "your priest stalker" and coming in contact with O'Brien's parents. Frustrated that he had been denied a spot in the Late Night audience, Ajemian sent a letter to O'Brien stating that he flew to New York "in the dimming hope that you might finally acknowledge me." He stated in another letter, "Is this the way you treat your most dangerous fans??? You owe me big time, pal." In another letter, Ajemian seemed to make a death threat, saying, "Remember Frank Costello once dodged a bullet in your building and so can you." Ajemian then tried to forcefully enter a taping of Late Night but was caught and arrested. He was previously warned by the NBC security team to stay away from the studio. After a psychological evaluation, he was deemed fit to stand trial. He has since been bailed out of jail. He was then reported missing by his father on November 10, 2007. He was found and underwent evaluation at a hospital. It is known that the two had attended Harvard University at the same time. He was found fit to stand trial on April 4, 2008. On April 8, 2008, Ajemian pleaded guilty to stalking, stating that he "never meant to cause anxiety or to upset anyone." He was ordered to pay a $95 court charge and to sign a two-year restraining order barring him from coming near O'Brien. On September 11, 2008, Ajemian checked himself out of his treatment at a hospital against the wishes of his bishop, Seán Patrick O'Malley. Cardinal O'Malley then released a statement saying that because he violated his bishop's wishes, Ajemian could no longer serve as a priest in the Catholic Church. In late 2010, Ajemian was charged with harassing the TV host Anthony Everett while violating a restraining order.
|1996||Favorite Deadly Sins||Himself||TV movie|
|2003||End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones||Himself||Documentary|
|2006||Queer Duck: The Movie||Himself||Voice|
|2008||The Great Buck Howard||Himself|
|2011||Conan O'Brien Can't Stop||Himself||Documentary|
|2013||Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 2||David Endocrine||Voice|
|2013||Now You See Me||Himself|
|2013||Clear History||Himself||TV movie|
|2013||The Secret Life of Walter Mitty||Himself|
|1988–1991||Saturday Night Live||Various||21 episodes|
|1993–2009||Late Night with Conan O'Brien||Himself (host)||2,277 episodes; also executive producer, writer|
|1994||The Simpsons||Himself (voice)||Episode: "Bart Gets Famous"|
|1995||Mr. Show with Bob and David||Himself||Episode: "The Cry of a Hungry Baby"|
|1996||The Single Guy||Cameron Duncan||Episode: "Rival"|
|1996||Arli$$||Himself||Episode: "Colors of the Rainbow"|
|1998||Veronica's Closet||Himself||Episode: "Veronica's Night Alone"|
|1998||Spin City||Himself||Episode: "Dead Dog Talking"|
|1999||Space Ghost Coast to Coast||Himself||Episode: "Fire Ant"|
|1999||Futurama||Himself (voice)||Episode: "Xmas Story"|
|1997–2002||Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist||Himself (voice)||2 episodes|
|2000–2011||Sesame Street||Himself||3 episodes|
|2001||Saturday Night Live||Himself (host)||Episode: "Conan O'Brien/Don Henley"|
|2002||The Osbournes||Himself||Episode: "The Osbournes"|
|2002||NBC 75th Anniversary Special||Himself||TV special|
|2002||54th Primetime Emmy Awards||Himself (host)||TV special|
|2003||Comedy Central Roast of Denis Leary||Himself||TV special|
|2003||55th Primetime Emmy Awards||Himself (co-host)||TV special|
|2003||Andy Richter Controls the Universe||Freddy Pickering||Episode: "Crazy in Rio"|
|2004||The Backyardigans||Santa Claus (voice)||Episode: "The Action Elves Save Christmas Eve"|
|2005–2008||Robot Chicken||Various voices||2 episodes|
|2006||O'Grady||Chip (voice)||Episode: "Frenched"|
|2006||The Office||Himself||Episode: "Valentine's Day"|
|2006||58th Primetime Emmy Awards||Himself (host)||TV special|
|2006–2013||30 Rock||Himself||2 episodes|
|2007||Robot Chicken: Star Wars||Zuckuss, Ponda Baba's Boss (voice)||TV special|
|2008||Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode II||Zuckuss (voice)||TV special|
|2009–2010||The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien||Himself (host)||145 episodes; also executive producer, writer|
|2010–present||Conan||Himself (host)||Also creator, executive producer, writer|
|2011||Web Therapy||Himself||3 episodes|
|2012||Eagleheart||Himself||Episode: "Honor Thy Marshal"|
|2012||How I Met Your Mother||Bar Patron||Episode: "No Pressure"|
|2013||Arrested Development||Himself||Episode: "The B. Team"|
|2013||Deon Cole's Black Box||Himself||Episode: "Deon Tries to Reach Out to White People"|
|2013||Nashville||Himself||Episode: "Never No More"|
|2013||It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia||Himself (voice)||Episode: "The Gang Broke Dee"|
|2013||Real Husbands of Hollywood||Himself||Episode: "Rock, Paper, Stealers"|
|2013||Arrested Development||Himself||Episode: "The B. Team"|
|2013||Brody Stevens: Enjoy It!||Himself||Episode: "Conan!"|
|2013||Family Guy||Himself (voice)||Episode: "Into Harmony's Way"|
|2014||2014 MTV Movie Awards||Himself (host)||TV special|
|2012||Halo 4||Soldier # 1|
|2005||"The Denial Twist"||The White Stripes|
As executive producer
|1991–1993||The Simpsons||52 episodes|
|2007||Andy Barker, P.I.||6 episodes; also creator|
|2013||Deon Cole's Black Box||6 episodes|
|2013–present||Super Fun Night|
|2013–present||The Pete Holmes Show|
|1983–1987||Not Necessarily the News||13 episodes|
|1987–1991||Saturday Night Live||73 episodes|
|1992–1993||The Simpsons||4 episodes|
|2007||Andy Barker, P.I.||6 episodes; also creator|
Awards and nominations
- "Conan O'Brien Biography". The New York Times. Retrieved February 3, 2009.
- "Outstanding Comedy Series". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved May 9, 2008.
- Lynn Hirschberg (May 20, 2009). "Heeeere’s . . . Conan!!!". The New York Times. Retrieved December 21, 2012.
- "Conan O'Brien to Debut New Late-Night Show on TBS". FOX News. Associated Press. April 12, 2010. Retrieved April 12, 2010.
- Frazier Moore, Associated Press (April 12, 2010). "Conan O'Brien to Make TBS His New Late-Night Home". ABC News. Retrieved April 12, 2010.
- "Conan O'Brien Biography (1963–)". Film Reference. Retrieved May 9, 2008.
- "Conan Christopher O’Brien". Ancestry. Retrieved May 9, 2008.
- Stated on Inside the Actors Studio, 2009
- "Ruth Reardon O'Brien 1931–". Stanford.edu. Retrieved January 23, 2010.
- Coons, Phyllis (December 3, 1980). "Extra Credit: Starting Out with Style". The Boston Globe.
- Beggy, Carol (6 November 2003). "Monet goes to Vegas; Kerry goes out on the town". Boston Globe. Retrieved May 11, 2008.
- "Harvard College Freshman Dean's Office". Harvard College. Retrieved May 11, 2008.
- Laufenberg, Norbert B. (2005). Entertainment Celebrities. Trafford. p. 482. ISBN 978-1-4120-5335-8.
- "@Google & YouTube present A Conversation with Conan O'Brien", AtGoogleTalks, 7 May 2010.
- Aucoin, Don (August 31, 2003). "Understanding Conan". The Boston Globe Magazine.
- O'Brien, Conan. The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien, NBC, 15 January 2010.
- Longcope, Kay (October 24, 1983). "A Star Rising". The Boston Globe.
- Finke, Nikki (14 January 2010). "NO JOKE: Jeff Zucker Had Conan Arrested". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 24, 2010.
- Rabin, Nathan (August 30, 2006). "Conan O'Brien". The A.V. Club. Retrieved May 11, 2008.
- "Host of Late Night With Conan O'Brien". Greater Talent Network. Archived from the original on April 18, 2008. Retrieved May 11, 2008.
- Boulware, Hugh (June 24, 1988). "Laugh Lines The Bits and Pieces That Get Comics Into the Act". Chicago Tribune.
- Bommer, Lawrence (July 29, 1988). "Live, From Chicago, It's...". Chicago Tribune.
- "Jeff Garlin interview". Late Night with Conan O'Brien. 2007-09-07.
- James Kaplan (September 21, 1998). "The Late Conan O'Brien". New York. Retrieved Aug 27, 2013.
- Ortved, 2009. p. 160–161
- Ortved, 2009. p. 163
- Volonnino, Michael R. (June 8, 2000). "O'Brien Returns to Harvard". Harvard Crimson. Retrieved May 11, 2008.
- "Conan O'Brien's Commencement Speech for the Harvard Class of 2000". everything2. August 8, 2000. Retrieved May 11, 2008.
- Ortved, 2009. p. 162
- O'Brien, Conan. (2003). Commentary for "Marge vs. the Monorail", in The Simpsons: The Complete Fourth Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- The Family Dynamic EW.com. Retrieved on February 13, 2007
- Ortved, 2009. p. 164
- Ortved, 2009. p. 165
- Ortved, 2009. p. 166-167
- Jean, Al. (2004). Commentary for "Cape Feare", in The Simpsons: The Complete Fifth Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- Pearlman, Cindy (July 8, 1994). "Muscle-Man Bound". People. Retrieved December 3, 2010.
- Interview with Kevin Nealon. Conan. December 2, 2010.
- Conan O'Brien (September 13, 1993). "O'Brien Flops!". The New York Times. Retrieved December 21, 2012.
- Tom Shales (October 19, 1993). "Go Gently Into That Good Night, Already!". The Washington Post. Retrieved Aug 27, 2013.
- David Bianculli (September 26, 2005). "Conan on the Couch". New York. Retrieved December 21, 2012.
- Tom Shales (June 18, 1996). "So I Was Wrong… Late Night's Late Riser". The Washington Post. Retrieved Aug 27, 2013.
- David Bianculli (June 15, 1994). "NBC's Conan O'Brien Awaits His Fate". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved December 21, 2012.
- Dan Snierson (February 9, 1996). "Better Late Than Never". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved Aug 27, 2013.
- "Episode dated 21 February 2009". Late Night with Conan O'Brien. February 21, 2009. NBC. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1375140/.
- Mark Lasswell (June 22, 1996). "Who'd Have Thought? Conan Turns Cool". TV Guide. Retrieved Aug 27, 2013.
- Barish, Mike (January 26, 2010). "5 places Conan should go on vacation". CNN. Retrieved January 26, 2010.
- "Conan O'Brien Takes Ax To 'Late Night' Set". http://www.kirotv.com. Retrieved February 25, 2010.
- HUFF, RICHARD (February 19, 2009). "Conan O'Brien ends 16-year run in New York to take over 'Tonight Show'". http://www.nydailynews.com. Retrieved February 25, 2010.
- Gomez, Fin (February 6, 2008). "Who Created Huckabee? Conan, Stewart, and Colbert Fight it Out". Fox News. Archived from the original on April 20, 2008. Retrieved May 11, 2008.
- "Will Ferrell Helps Conan Kick Things Off". Ok!. May 18, 2009. Retrieved February 26, 2011.
- Elber, Lynn (September 26, 2009). "Conan O'Brien OK after hitting head in show stunt". The Seattle Times. Retrieved June 27, 2011.
- "O'Brien back on 'Tonight,' joking about accident". USA Today. September 28, 2009. Retrieved Aug 27, 2013.
- Carter, Bill (January 8, 2010). "NBC Wants Leno Back in Old Slot". The New York Times. Retrieved January 8, 2010.
- "Leno returns to late night: NBC". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. January 10, 2010. Retrieved January 10, 2010.[dead link]
- Daly, Sean (January 11, 2010). "Just Call Him Conan O'Flyin'". New York Post. Retrieved January 11, 2010.
- Graham, Adam (2010). "Classily, Conan exits the Tonight Show". DETNEWS. Retrieved January 22, 2010.
- Conan O'Brien Says He Won't Host "Tonight Show" After Leno, New York Times, January 12, 2010
- Conan O'Brien: I Won't Do "The Tonight Show" at 12:05AM, Zap2It.com, January 12, 2010
- Conan O'Brien Thanks Fans in "Tonight" Farewell, NY Times, January 23, 2010
- Exclusive: Conan, NBC Officially Splitsville, The Wrap, January 21, 2010
- NBC, Conan O'Brien Reach Deal for "Tonight Show" Exit, Broadcasting & Cable, January 21, 2010
- Conan O'Brien Signs Deal to Leave NBC, MarketWatch, January 21, 2010
- New York Times article: "NBC’s Shift in Schedule May Be Up to O’Brien".
- Business Insider article: "Why Is USA Network, NBC's Sister Station, Wooing Conan?".
- Gallagher, Brian (January 22, 2010). "Conan O'Brien Mulls Post The Tonight Show Options". MovieWeb.com. Retrieved February 26, 2011.
- Business Insider article: "Conan O'Brien Staying Close To Fox, Selling His New York Apartment."
- "Conan O'Brien's palatial Brentwood home". Los Angeles Times. February 27, 2008. Retrieved Aug 27, 2013.
- Behrens, Zach (April 27, 2010). "Conan Says He'll Stay in L.A. for Cable Show, Will Appear on '60 Minutes'". LAist.
- Conan O'Brien at Twitter
- Entertainment Weekly article: "Conan O'Brien's Twitter debut."
- Chicago Tribune article: "Conan, Ozzie and the Dalai Lama: Together on Twitter."
- Cnet article: "Conan joins Twitter, beats Leno in hours."
- LA Times article: "Conan O'Brien joins Twitter and doubles Jay Leno's follower count in two hours."
- Kanalley, Craig (First Posted: 02–24–10 06:16 pm; Updated: 04–26–10 05:12 am). "Conan O'Brien Joins Twitter: New Account EXPLODES With Followers". The Huffington Post. Retrieved October 13, 2010.
- USA Today article: "Tweet this: Conan reaches 1 million; Britney overtakes Ashton."
- "Conan O'Brien on Twitter". Twitter.com. Retrieved 2013-07-25.
- Lopez, George (April 29, 2010). "Conan O'Brien – The 2010 Time 100". TIME. Retrieved April 30, 2010.
- Carter, Bill (April 29, 2010). "Conan O'Brien Opens Up About NBC Departure". The New York Times. Retrieved April 30, 2010.
- Hibberd, James (May 2, 2010). "Conan O'Brien '60 Minutes' transcript". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 2, 2010.
- Twitter page for Conan O'Brien: "Hey Internet."
- "O'Brien's's Tour Site". Teamcoco.com. Retrieved February 26, 2011.
- "Conan O'Brien Announces Live Tour Across U.S., Canada – ABC News". Abcnews.go.com. Retrieved February 26, 2011.
- "Coco Coast to Coast: Conan O'Brien announces his national tour (UPDATED)". Variety.
- "Conan Launches TeamCoco.com to Promote 30-City Comedy Tour".
- "Jack White will perform in the first show" (spanish) CYAN mag #14 November'10
- Carter, Bill (April 12, 2010). "How the Conan O’Brien-TBS Deal Happened". The New York Times. Retrieved April 12, 2010.
- "Inside Shows – CTV 2010 fall schedules and lineups announced". Shows.ctv.ca. Retrieved February 26, 2011.
- "> Blog > An Open Letter to Conan O’Brien". Revision3. January 18, 2010. Retrieved February 26, 2011.
- HeadlinePlanet.com article "Report: FOX, TBS, FX, HBO Among Networks Interested in Conan O’Brien".
- James, Meg (April 1, 2013). "TBS extends Conan O'Brien through 2015". Los Angeles Times.
- "Conan O'Brien apologizes to Canadians". CNN. February 18, 2004. Retrieved March 31, 2010.
- Flynn, Gillian (December 21, 2007). "Andy Barker, P.I.". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved May 11, 2008.
- "Conan O'Brien scrubs up for medical drama — Yahoo! News". News.yahoo.com. Archived from the original on Sep 30, 2008. Retrieved October 13, 2008.
- "Television – News – NBC orders pilot from Conan O'Brien". Digital Spy. January 27, 2010. Retrieved February 26, 2011.
- "NBC Unveils 2010–2011 Primetime Schedule Accented by Five New Comedies, Seven New Dramas, and New Alternative Program". The Futon Critic. May 16, 2010. Retrieved May 28, 2010.
- O'Brien, Conan. (2004). Commentary for "Bart Gets Famous" in The Simpsons: The Complete Fifth Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- "LoDingo® – Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell – Audio Book Download". Lodingo.com. Retrieved February 26, 2011.
- "DVD: Robot Chicken: Star Wars with Hulk Hogan (voice) and Conan O'Brien (voice)". Tower.com. July 22, 2008. Retrieved February 26, 2011.
- "30 Rock" Tracy Does Conan (TV episode 2006) – IMDb
- "Futurama" Xmas Story (TV episode 1999) – IMDb
- "The Office: Valentine's Day Episode Summary on". Tv.com. Retrieved February 26, 2011.
- Abramson, Dan (January 13, 2010). ""The Simpsons" Anniversary: Memories From Sting, Conan O'Brien, And More (VIDEO)". Huffington Post. Retrieved February 26, 2011.
- "Conan Gets Animated", Conan, TBS, December 9, 2010
- ""The Flaming C" Returns!". Conan. Team Coco/TBS. January 10, 2011. Retrieved January 11, 2011.
- Zabriskie, Phil (December 11, 2011). "Justin Bieber, Jennifer Hudson, others take the stage at ‘Christmas in Washington’". Washington Post. Retrieved December 12, 2011.
- "Penguins of Madagascar: "Lunacorn Apocalypse" S3". Nickelodeon. Retrieved June 27, 2012.
- "It's Official: Conan O'Brien To Host The 2014 MTV Movie Awards" MTV.com, March 4, 2014
- Adalian, Josef (August 27, 2006). "article". Variety. Retrieved May 11, 2008.
- Vranica, Suzanne (November 8, 2010). "Card for a Card: AmEx Hires Conan". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved November 9, 2010.
- "Conan O'Brien Bud Light Super Bowl 2009 Ad". I4U. February 1, 2009. Retrieved November 20, 2010.
- "Awkward, Self-Deprecating Humor Makes A Return As Conan O'Brien Debuts In LA". Starpulse.com. June 2, 2009. Retrieved February 26, 2011.
- "Twitter Tracker, 2 June 2009". tonightshowwithconanobrien.com. Retrieved January 21, 2010.[dead link]
- "Tom Hanks Interview Pt. 1, 2 June 2009". tonightshowwithconanobrien.com. Retrieved January 21, 2010.[dead link]
- "Tom Hanks Interview Pt. 2, 2 June 2009". tonightshowwithconanobrien.com. Retrieved January 21, 2010.[dead link]
- "Look Out! The Ginja Ninja T-Shirts Are Here!". teamcoco.com. Retrieved April 8, 2011.
- Serpe, Gina (November 10, 2005). "Conan's Baby O'Brien". E! Online. Retrieved May 11, 2008.
- "Conan O'Brien and wife have baby girl". USA Today. October 15, 2003. Retrieved May 11, 2008.
- "Conan O'Brien & Wife Have Second Child". People magazine. November 11, 2005. Retrieved May 11, 2008.
- "Labels are for Jars". Labels are for Jars. Retrieved May 11, 2008.
- Betances, Yadira, "One year, 100,000 meals; Cor Unum reaches milestone feeding the hungry", The Eagle-Tribune, Lawrence, Massachusetts, September 28, 2007.
- "Watch Conan's Beard Get Shaved For Real During The Commercial Break". TeamCoco.com. Retrieved 2011-05-04.
- "The Best Of The Beardpocalypse Photoshop Contest". TeamCoco.com. Retrieved 2011-05-04.
- Reardanz, Karen (January 21, 2008). "O'Brien Spends Big in L.A.". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved May 11, 2008.
- "Universal Life Church Ministers". universallifechurchministers.org. Retrieved January 3, 2012.
- "Universal Life Church Monastery Minister Conan O’Brien to Perform Gay Wedding". Universal Life Church Monastery. 28 October 2011.
- "Video of Conan O'Brien Getting Ordained - Universal Life Church Monastery". Retrieved 5 February 2012.
- Conan O'Brien Officiates Gay Wedding Of Scott Cronick And David Gorshein On Air (VIDEO), Huffington Post, November 4, 2011.
- "Conan's Alleged 'Priest Stalker' in Court".
- "Conan Stalker Pleads Guilty".
- "Conan O'Brien's Stalker Checks Out of Treatment". Huffington Post. September 12, 2008.
- "David Ajemian, Conan O'Brien's Stalker Priest, Arrested AGAIN". Huffington Post. November 19, 2010.
- Ortved, John (2009). The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History. Greystone Books. pp. 248–250. ISBN 978-1-55365-503-9.
- DeFrank, Ginny (2007). Marry me Conan O'Brien and other tales of well-planned self-delusion. University of Southern California. p. 608.
- "Late night talk show host Conan O'Brien". NPR. September 8, 2003. Retrieved May 11, 2008.
- Rabin, Nathan (August 23, 2006). "Conan O'Brien". The A.V. Club. Retrieved May 11, 2008.
- Rabin, Nathan (August 30, 2006). "Conan O'Brien". The A.V. Club. Retrieved May 11, 2008.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Conan O'Brien.|
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Conan O'Brien|
|Host of The Tonight Show
June 1, 2009 – January 22, 2010
|Host of Late Night
September 13, 1993 – February 20, 2009
|Host of Christmas in Washington