Roger Ailes appears to be a Conan O'Brien fan. Ailes, who is particularly well known for steering Fox News, but who is also chairman of Twentieth Television and Fox Television Stations, told Sunday's Chicago Tribune , "We all admire him as a talent" and noted that Peter Rice, Fox's head of entertainment, "is very much in favor" of putting O'Brien on the network at 11 00 p.m., giving him a half-hour head start on Jay Leno and David Letterman. (Fox affiliates mostly air news programming in the 10 00 p.m. hour.) The problem, Ailes observed, is one of "arithmetic." Currently many Fox outlets, including several of the network's owned stations, do well with syndicated programming in the 11 00 p.m. hour. Many key Fox stations air The Simpsons at that time, buying the syndicated reruns from another Fox unit. Moreover, the series is produced by yet another Fox unit (and -- irony of ironies -- O'Brien previously worked as a writer on the series). In New York and Los Angeles, the stations are obligated to carry repeats of 30 Rock at 11 00. The Tribune quoted Ailes as saying, "We obviously have programming in [those time slots] we would have to write off or do something with if we made a change." ( Daily Variety observed today that Fox is considering the possibility of continuing to air syndicated fare at 11 00 p.m., followed by O'Brien at 11 30 p.m.) Nevertheless, Ailes seemed to suggest that he also favors replacing the syndicated programming with an O'Brien-hosted show. "Live programming in that time slot is probably good for the network," Ailes told the Tribune . "I can't imagine anybody running a network who wouldn't want his own late-night show, and I think that's probably correct thinking." He then added "But, particularly in a recession, [the math] has to work." Meanwhile, O'Brien's Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television nationwide tour is due to kick off tonight in Eugene, OR.

12/04/2010