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George Lopez explains why he made room for Conan O'Brien on TBS

George Lopez wants everyone to know he has not been "Lenoed."  He's also not moving "for the white man," as Chris Rock joked on "Lopez Tonight" on Monday night.

Lopez, who has been hosting his own TBS late-night talk show since November, said in a phone interview with The Times on Tuesday morning that he agreed to move "Lopez Tonight" to midnight in the fall to make room for a new Conan O'Brien show because "I’m in the George Lopez business. I believe that Conan O’Brien coming to TBS is good for my business. And not only good for my business in November, but good for my business between now and November and when Conan gets there and into the future."

TBS' announcement on Monday that O'Brien would be joining the network with a new show at 11 p.m., shifting "Lopez Tonight" an hour later, included a statement from Lopez that he was on board with the move. But that wasn't enough to quell speculation that, ironically, Lopez was suffering the same fate that left O'Brien without his "Tonight Show" gig only seven months into the job.

"I don’t feel like I’m moving for the red man," Lopez said and laughed. "It’s a partnership that works. I don’t mind following Conan. I’ve only been at 11 for five months, and it will be a year when Conan comes. So I’ll take my audience and move it to 12. I don’t read into it the way that people on Twitter do. I don’t read into it the way that people with a negative opinion do. I don’t need to be on TV other than to do something I really want to do. I like this show at 11. And I like it at 12. It doesn’t change the way I’m thinking about the ideas for my show or my staff or TBS. I think it is an aggressive move that puts TBS, with Conan and I, above what is happening on late-night right now, which is a little bit stagnant now. This moves the needle."

From the start, Turner Entertainment Networks Steve Koonin included Lopez in the discussion. Last Wednesday, Koonin flew to Burbank to meet with Lopez and explain what he had in mind. Koonin told Lopez if it was going to happen, it needed to happen quickly and with his support. Lopez says the plan immediately made sense to him. With O'Brien's appeal to a young audience and the momentum he and his brand of comedy have right now, Lopez saw only a win-win situation.

"I thought that since I already have a younger demographic, with a smaller audience — I’ve only been on five months — it would be a perfect match," Lopez said. "Conan's younger and being fresher and having a different approach, I think it's a perfect match that not only can succeed but be on TV for a long time and TBS a true destination in late night, which would take it away completely from the [broadcast] networks."

Koonin asked Lopez to speak to O'Brien. The two comedians, who met in 2003 hosting the Emmys, spoke on Wednesday afternoon and then on Sunday again. Lopez told O'Brien that TBS would be a great venue for him to his comedy without interference from studios or affiliates.

"It was very important to Conan that he felt that he wasn’t doing to me what was done to him, and I said. 'Absolutely not. I’m not that type of person, and I completely welcome you and hope that we would do things together to promote each other’s show,' " Lopez said. "That’s something that doesn’t exist now — an integrated [effort], two guys that get along that have different approaches to comedy that are with the same network that want to do things together. If you look at, without naming hosts, there’s one guy that’s an island to himself, who has alienated everyone that he’s ever really contacted. That’s not me."

Moving his show to midnight doesn't concern Lopez because he's seen David Letterman, Craig Ferguson, Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel succeed at that hour or later.

"Conan's a great lead-in," Lopez said. "He has a supportive following, and I believe that our two shows together are much more powerful than myself alone. Let's say Conan did go to Fox. I would be up against Conan, stretching it out even further. So now I have him in my corner.

"We've always had a relationship. When I used to do his show, we used to speak before his show very honestly and very candidly, and those conversations meant a lot to him. And they mean a lot to me because we’re getting into something that will only succeed if we are bonded together, doing our individual shows, but also have a friendship. Together, we are a force that has something to prove. When there’s risk, that's always great, and we want the shows to be good, which is even better."

-- Maria Elena Fernandez (follow me on Twitter @writerchica)

Video: Monday's episode of "Lopez Tonight." Credit: TBS


Conan O'Brien Signs with TBS

Comments () | Archives (20)

George is being honest about one thing, his audience is "smaller". Having Conan lead in for him is the luckiest thing that ever happened to GL. He's only been on a few months and his show is already old. George is a huge vendido, a homophobe and an embarrassment to all Chicanos. I will watch Conan, but don't expect too many to stick around until 12 George.

Actually a good deal for Lopez. Like he said, if O'Brien went to Fox, that's splitting their audience. He has to believe he'll get a better lead-in with Conan than TBS's regular programming.

Lopez should try to "guilt" the Conan fans, and say, "Hey, I made way for your guy. After watching Conan's show, hang around for mine! You might like it!"

Yep, GL is SPOT ON.

With team CoCo leading him there will definitely be more for him and his show. The move is logical and really an obvious one. TBS is clearly, going to show the big 3 networks (CBS, ABC & NBC) how its done.

He's not moving for the white man, he's moving for the funny man.

Don't know how much of a vendido or homophobe George Lopez is.
But sadly when a person of color reaches a certain critical mass of fame (ie: white folks like him), he's usually accused of selling out. Tired old stuff.
What I do know about George Lopez?
He's smart.
He's funny.
He talked his wife into giving him one of her kidneys, so we know he can be persuasive.
He wisely realizes that in the age of Tivo's and market driven segregation (which is what all these multiple talk shows that appeal to a more and more narrow, specific audiences) this is the smart move.
Conan is a bigger draw and the halo effect could push him into another league.

If I was in George's shoes I wouldn't complain either. George just hit the jackpot. He is in line to finally make it big time, really big. I don't like him but he is a LATINO/HISPANIC out to make good. Just make us proud George.

Smart move all around. Conan gets to own his show, George gets a nice lead-in, and together they create an alternative talk show block. I'd frankly forgotten GL had a talk show on TBS, and this reminded me, and I'm sure many others - so there's already a bump for GL.

I didn't even know GL had his own show...

It's working already

"homophobe" Where do you get that information? And definately not a n embarrassment to most latinos maybe Chicanos?Really? where do you get your information.

Great this gives him an extra hour to work on figuring out how he is going to take a racist caricature like Speedy Gonzalez and claim he hasn't sold out.

Funny how posters like LBGirl48 call success stories like George Lopez a sellout, but rarely get "outraged" by all the gangbangers and pregnant teens that are infesting our "community." Jealously runs rampant in the Chicano community, and this is a perfect example. Self-hate at its worst.

Conan O'Brien & George Lopez.

Team CoCo & Team Lo-Co

Your the man George.

"Great this gives him an extra hour to work on figuring out how he is going to take a racist caricature like Speedy Gonzalez and claim he hasn't sold out." ~ Miguel

Miguel, I'm guesssing you don't remember Gaspar "Capulina" Henaine?

George Lopez, while I have found him to be funny from time to time, has never been a destination comic for me. But his attitude regarding Conan O'Brien has shown me Lopez is a class act. It resulted in me watching his show last night. Calling Lopez a racist or a homophobe smacks of hostility, and that's not right, especially since neither is true.


Like Conan, I am of Irish descent, and our people fought alongside the Mexicans in the Mexican-American War. Yes, we lost, but hey, the San Patricios did their best. Just as then, one of our own will again stand with another Mexican to achieve a mutual goal. And I say to my Mexican bretheren:VIVA LA REVOLUTION!!

Good move all around: TBS now has 2 franchises that appeal to different audiences; Conan gets creative freedom, no affiliate issues, and a younger demo platform; and Lopez gets a nice lead in.

Here's the video of George Lopez defending his decision to join Team Coco on Larry King last night:

Stop with the team CoCo stuff, Conan hates that and has said it over and over. His name is Conan...learn it, live it, love it.

He was forced to agree to let O'Brian take his spot. He was threatened to be fired otherwise. He'll take what he can get as long as he can get it. He is kinda funny as a stand up comedian but he sucks at movies and this show sucks too.


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