NBC has confirmed what E! News Live reported Friday--that the self-deprecating Late Night host will emcee the 54th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards.
It will be O'Brien's first time hosting the boob-tube's biggest night.
The choice has raised some eyebrows in the industry, since many observers believed the gig would go to Tonight Show host Jay Leno.
But NBC entertainment president Jeff Zucker said Leno wasn't hot on the idea. Zucker says that, before going to O'Brien, the network extended Leno an invitation out of "courtesy," but he turned it down and gave his blessing to his late-night compatriot.
"We wanted to go to Conan because we think it's Conan's turn to be seen by the biggest audience that will ever see [him], and Jay was thrilled with that," Zucker told reporters Tuesday while unveiling the network's fall slate at the Television Critics Association gathering in Pasadena, California.
According to Zucker, Leno was also "relieved" to avoid the anxiety and pressure of having to balance his Tonight Show duties with the Emmys.
"If you know Jay, you know it's not something he wanted to do," Zucker added. "If [Leno] said it were something he wanted to do, we would have acquiesced."
O'Brien, on the other hand, was more than happy to step in.
"I mean, he's the host of the Tonight Show, and I'm sure he's thrilled to have me do it--it's a lot of work," O'Brien joked. The jovial red-haired comedian also said Leno called with a few suggestions.
O'Brien has been working in Leno's shadow since succeeding David Letterman as host of NBC's Late Night in 1993.
Hosting the Emmys will not only give the 39-year-old former SNL and Simpsons writer a chance to soak up a little bit of the spotlight, but it will also introduce him to millions of potential viewers who've never stayed up to see him.
It's long been a tradition that the network hosting the Emmys (the show rotates among the four major networks) gets to use the ceremony to promote its stars and its new programming.
Case in point: CBS advertised last season's Ellen by having star Ellen DeGeneres assume hosting chores at the 53rd Primetime Emmys. (The seemingly cursed ceremony was called off following the September 11 terrorist attacks, nixed again in the wake of America's attacks on Afghanistan and eventually rescheduled as a more subdued affair far different from the glitz and glamour of previous years.)
While DeGeneres generated high praise for getting the country laughing again (especially in that duck suit), the same couldn't be said for her new sitcom, which was eventually axed.
Luckily for Conan, he doesn't have to worry about his future with the network. The Emmy gig will undoubtedly provide a nice plug to his show, but NBC has already renewed Late Night for another four years, with O'Brien doubling his salary to more than $8 million a year.
It's already been a banner year for O'Brien. Aside from the Emmy news and Late Night pay raise, the host tied the knot with advertising executive Liz Powel, whom he met when she appeared on a Late Night skit.
The Emmycast is scheduled to air live (and, the TV Academy vows, cancellation-free) on NBC from Los Angeles' Shrine Auditorium September 22.