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Lopez: Conan didn't want me to get 'Leno'd'

By Alan Duke, CNN
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Lopez welcomes Conan O'Brien to TBS
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • George Lopez says he doesn't mind moving his show to make way for Conan O'Brien
  • O'Brien's new show will air at 11 p.m. ET; Lopez 's show will air an hour later
  • O'Brien has been off-air since leaving "The Tonight Show" in shakeup with NBC, Jay Leno

Los Angeles, California (CNN) -- Late-night TV will change forever when Conan O'Brien launches his show on cable channel TBS in November, comedian George Lopez told CNN's Larry King Tuesday.

O'Brien's talk show will air weeknights at 11 p.m. ET/PT, leading into "Lopez Tonight," which will shift to a midnight start, TBS said.

"It's going to be fantastic come November," Lopez said, dubbing the partnership, "Team LoCo."

O'Brien has been off the air since January when NBC canceled Jay Leno's prime-time hour after disappointing ratings led to an affiliate revolt.

The surprise deal -- amid speculation that O'Brien's return would be on the Fox broadcast network -- was sealed after Lopez called O'Brien to assure him he had no problem with having his show pushed to midnight from 11 p.m. ET.

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"What he was concerned with was that he wasn't going to do to me what was done to him at NBC," Lopez said. "He did not want me to get 'Leno'd.'"

Instead, Lopez, who launched his own show on TBS last year, welcomed O'Brien.

"I am predicting that these shows will change late-night TV," Lopez said. "My intention was to bring the party back to late night."

His average viewer is 33 years old, an "amazingly young" demographic compared to the broadcast late night-shows, he said.

Adding Conan O'Brien will create a "dynamic two-hour block" on TBS, he said.

Being on cable, O'Brien's humor will no longer be bound by the constraints of broadcast television, he said.

"One thing that was important to him was doing a show that was edgy," Lopez said. "When you go to cable, there are no stations and no affiliates and they allow you to do your show."

Since Conan O'Brien is expected to produce his show on the Warner Brothers studio lot in Burbank, California, where Lopez works, the two can team up on segments, he said.

"We've talked about doing things together, pieces together back and forth, which would be innovative for late night television," he said.

Lopez said his reward for helping land O'Brien at TBS is to have his show renewed for another year. "The contract could have been up in a couple of weeks," he said.

TBS, like CNN, is a unit of Time Warner.

O'Brien joked about his new deal Monday.

"In three months I've gone from network television to Twitter to performing live in theaters, and now I'm headed to basic cable," O'Brien said in a news release. "My plan is working perfectly."

NBC paid O'Brien and his staff an estimated $40 million to clear the way for Leno to return to the "Tonight Show" host chair he handed off to O'Brien last year.

The settlement left O'Brien free to launch a competing show after September 1, 2010. The ouster of O'Brien after just seven months on the show stirred his friends and fans -- dubbed Team CoCo -- to launch a variety of anti-NBC protests.

 
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