late-night television

Conan 2.0

February 10, 2011: 5:00 AM ET

How a late-night Luddite accidentally fought his way back into bedrooms (and computers, smartphones, and tablets) across America.

By Douglas Alden Warshaw, contributor

Conan O'Brien is in his bedroom. It's a little bit past 11 p.m., and he's shyly, hesitantly, nervously attempting to do his first webcast. But he keeps getting interrupted. And it's driving him crazy. "Get out of my room! Get out of my room! This is private!" O'Brien's embarrassed, and he's yelling at the top of his lungs. "Everybody get out!!!"

Okay, that's part of a skit from O'Brien's new late-night show, Conan, on TBS. But, almost exactly a year ago, more than a few people in the media business thought that O'Brien, freshly tossed off The Tonight Show by NBC after only seven months on the job, just might have to sit in his bedroom for a long time, and that performing a show on the web might actually be his only option. That was until more than a million people, most of them ages 18 to 49, started shouting, "We want Coco!" and the reinvention of Conan O'Brien from traditional television performer to multimedia brand began.

O'Brien's audience came to his rescue in a way that was inconceivable until it happened. In fact, it was inconceivable even while it was happening. More

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