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Conan Shocker! O'Brien Disses Fox, Heads to TBS

Conan O'Brien, Late Night with Conan O'Brien Dana Edelson/NBC

Well, we didn't see this one coming.

After months of all-but-assumed reports that Conan O'Brien would be taking his late-night talents to Fox this fall comes the surprise announcement that the dethroned Tonight Show host will instead be moving to basic cable, launching his new late-night talk show on TBS in November.

Which means the Superstation just got a little more super.

"The good news: I will be doing a show on TBS starting in November!" O'Brien tweeted this morning. "The bad news: I'll be playing Rudy on the all new Cosby Show."

"In three months I've gone from network television to Twitter to performing live in theaters, and now I'm headed to basic cable," he added in a slightly more official statement. "My plan is working perfectly."

Well, he'll certainly be keeping some funny basic cable company.

TBS also announced that O'Brien's untitled show will air four nights a week, Mondays through Thursdays, at 11 p.m. While it may seem an odd choice, it's not unprecedented: George Lopez's Lopez Tonight late-night chatfest already airs on the cable net, but will get pushed back to midnight to accommodate O'Brien's new venture.

As for the irony in O'Brien's show pushing back the airtime of one of his late-night colleagues, Lopez certainly doesn't seem to mind.

"I can't think of anything better than doing my show with Conan as my lead-in," Lopez said. "It's the beginning of a new era in late-night comedy."

No exact start date for the show has yet been set, but it's expected to debut sometime in November. (Now that's what we call a sweeps stunt.)

As for those Fox talks, Variety reported that negotiations stalled over concern from affiliates, who bank a pretty buck off the syndicated sitcoms that currently run in the 11 p.m. hour.

In the meantime, Team CoCo fans know full well that they can catch O'Brien on his Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television Tour, which kicks off, not so coincidentally, tonight in Eugene, Ore.

(Originally published April 12, 2010, at 10:13 a.m. PT)

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