Conan O'Brien

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Conan O'Brien hosts the NBC television talk show Late Night with Conan O'Brien.

Conan Christopher O'Brien (born April 18, 1963) is an Irish American comedian. He has been host of the television program Late Night with Conan O'Brien on the NBC network since 1993. He is slated to succeed Jay Leno as the host of The Tonight Show in 2009.



O'Brien was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston. He is the third of six children and one of four boys. A Roman Catholic, he was a lector at St. Ignatius Parish. His father, Dr. Thomas O'Brien, was a research physician at Brigham and Womens' Hospital and an associate professor at Harvard Medical School. His mother, Ruth Reardon O'Brien, is a former well-known lawyer at the Boston law firm of Ropes & Gray. His sister Jane is a comedy writer and producer. O'Brien is a distant cousin of Denis Leary through marriage; contrary to popular belief, they are not actually related through a recent common ancestor.

On January 12, 2002, O'Brien married advertising executive Liza Powell in Seattle, Washington, in a nuptial Mass at St. James Cathedral by Father Paul O'Brien (no relation). They have one daughter, Neve, born on October 14, 2003 in New York City. They are expecting their second child this November.


After graduating as the valedictorian from Brookline High School (Brookline, Massachusetts), O'Brien entered Harvard University. During each of the four years he attended the school, he was a writer for the prestigious Harvard Lampoon humor magazine. During his junior and senior years, O'Brien served as the Lampoon's president, making him only the second person ever to serve as president twice, and the first person to have done it in 85 years. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard in 1985 with a concentration in American History and Literature.

Television career

O'Brien moved to Los Angeles upon graduation to join the writing staff of HBO's Not Necessarily the News. He spent two years with that show, and performed regularly with improvisational groups like The Groundlings. He also acted in corporate infomercials to earn money during this period.

After Not Necessarily the News, O'Brien worked as the warm-up comic for the Wilton North Report, a Fox show that was on the air for just four weeks. O'Brien then moved on to the Happy Happy Good Show, a stage show being put on in Chicago at the time.

In January 1988 Saturday Night Live's executive producer Lorne Michaels hired O'Brien as a writer. During his 3½ years on SNL he wrote such recurring sketches as Mr. Short-Term Memory and The Girl Watchers, the latter of which was first performed by Tom Hanks and Jon Lovitz. Additionally, O'Brien wrote the sketch Nude Beach, which became infamous due to the fact that the word penis appeared in it no less than 42 times, much of it in the form of song.[1] ( He also appeared as an extra in some skits, occasionally with a speaking role. In 1989, he and the other SNL writers were awarded an Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy or Variety Series.

In the spring of 1991, O'Brien left SNL to write and produce a pilot for the TV show Lookwell, starring Adam West. It was broadcast on NBC in July but was not picked up as a series. That fall O'Brien signed on as a writer and producer for the Fox series The Simpsons, where he also became a supervising producer. In a speech he gave at Harvard on Class Day in 2000, O'Brien credited The Simpsons with "saving" him, a reference to the career slump he was experiencing prior to his hiring for that show.[2] ( Of the episodes he wrote while there, he considers Marge vs. the Monorail to be his favorite.

On April 26, 1993, Lorne Michaels chose Conan to be David Letterman's replacement as host of Late Night with David Letterman (with Andy Richter as his sidekick), and the show's name was changed to Late Night with Conan O'Brien. It received generally unfavorable critical reviews for the first 2-3 years after its debut. Indeed, the show was reportedly cancelled by network executives, but was allowed to remain on a day-to-day basis when it was realized there was no programming available to replace it.

Since then, however, O'Brien and the Late Night writing team have consistently been nominated for an Emmy Award for Best Writing in a Comedy or Variety Series, though they have not won as of 2004. 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 the 2003-04 television season, Late Night with Conan O'Brien averaged 2.5 million viewers each week.

In addition, O'Brien currently heads Conaco, a production partnership with NBC to develop programming for the network. Its first venture, the reality show Lost, debuted in fall of 2001.

On September 27, 2004, NBC announced the planned 2009 retirement of Tonight Show host Jay Leno. O'Brien was named Leno's successor, following in the footsteps of Steve Allen, Jack Paar, and Johnny Carson.[3] (

External links

Preceded by:
David Letterman
Host of Late Night
1993 – 2009
Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
Jay Leno
Host of The Tonight Show

2009 –
Succeeded by:

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