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Louis C.K. speaks out for Conan

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By GREG HERNANDEZ

The Conan-Leno late night debacle seemingly has everyone in the entertainment business taking sides including comedian Louis C.K. who has publicly joined team Conan.

“Conan gave me my first job, to me that’s sacred,” C.K. (a.k.a. Louis Szekely) said of O’Brien while promoting his new FX comedy “Louie” during the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour which concludes today. “I love the guy and I think he’ll end up somewhere else and he’ll go back to doing Conan. It’s hurting him inside because he wants to be the host of ‘The Tonight Show.'”
O’Brien is finalizing details of a deal that has him leaving as host of “The Tonight Show” after just seven months behind the desk.

“I think he’ll be fine, he’s a really hard-working guy,” C.K. said.

The comic said he could never understand the desire of O’Brien – and David Letterman before him – to follow in the footsteps of Johnny Carson on the NBC late night franchise anyway.

“When I was a kid, that was Johnny Carson’s show and it was kind of what old people watched. . . . When [David] Letterman really wanted ‘The Tonight Show’ I didn’t understand it, he had his own show called [Late Night with David] ‘Letterman.’ And when they rejected him he went and got [The Late Show with David] Letterman again. He’s doing great. Conan had ‘Conan.’ People didn’t call it ‘Late Night’ — that was how much he had made it his. I don’t know why you’d want to give that up to host ‘The Tonight Show’ — it’s just this old [expletive] thing. Let Jay have it.”
The late night situation came about after NBC replaced Leno with O’Brien last June and gave Leno a five-times-a-week prime time show. Both are flailing in the ratings so the network has canceled Leno and plan to move him to the 11:35 p.m. slot and push O’Brien and “Tonight” to 12:05 a.m. O’Brien refused to move and that has set the stage for the current messy showdown.

C.K. noted that the situation is a “traumatic thing” for those involved “except for that guy, [expletive] Zucker, whatever his name is” referring to NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker who masterminded the changes.

Said CK: “I don’t know, he’s probably a great guy. He’s just a great villain! That face! And doing all these crazy things, and making everybody mad!”

He’s pretty impressed with Leno’s mettle though: “Jay is from Massachusetts which is close to where I grew up. He’s a Boston comic and he’s like, ‘It’s my show, I’m [expletive] holding on to that show … It’s very impressive what he pulled off.”

“Louie” is based on C.K.’s life as a comedian and divorced father of two and will premiere on FX in March. His previous series, “Lucky Louie,” had aired on HBO.

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