By Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist Published Nov 09, 2010 at 11:00 AM

Conan O'Brien has spent much of his time, at least publicly, over the past eight months, venting his anger over his handling by NBC out of his system.

In interviews, tweets and his live tour, he exorcised his demons over prime-time flop Jay Leno's heavy-handed stealing of his 10:35 p.m. slot and NBC's attempt to keep him happy by moving him back out of the slot that has been one of TV's most important slots since Steve Allen created it in the 1950s.

I think he was wronged, and I think the wrong guy was rewarded. Forget all the baloney about how Conan's "The Tonight Show" ratings weren't good. It was a different show from its predecessor and never had time to find its spot.

I'm not a member of "Team Coco" as his Internet fan base calls itself, although I do think he's a funny guy. And I'm happy that he's finally back on weeknight TV at 10 p.m. on TBS.

That show launched Monday night with guests Seth Rogen, Lea Michele and musical guest Jack White.

But a focus of the hour was the great wrong that had been done to Conan.

The show opened with a look back -- dubbed "Last season on 'Conan'" --  at what he's been doing since the end of his "The Tonight Show" tenure, including a "Godfather"-style machine-gunning by NBC execs, a series of odd jobs and finally guardian angel Larry King tells him to go to "basic cable."

It was a funny bit, but then it was followed by Conan's monologue (the show is constructed in classic talk show style, with a desk and chairs and a skyline in the background). The monologue started with a crack that the applause "lasted longer than my first job," and a "welcome to my second annual first show."

"People asked me why I named the show, 'Conan.' I did it so I'd be harder to replace."

He said he was glad to be on cable. "I have dreamed of being a talk show host on basic cable ever since I was 46.

"It's not easy doing a late-night show on a channel without a lot of money, that viewers have trouble finding. So that's why I left NBC."

Again, the jokes were funny. But let's hope he's can go back to being a funny guy doing a funny late-night talk show.

If you didn't watch, here's the open to Monday night's premiere:





Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist

Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for He's been a journalist for 30 years, starting in 1979 as a police reporter at the old City News Bureau of Chicago, a legendary wire service that's the reputed source of the journalistic maxim "if your mother says she loves you, check it out." He spent a couple years in the mean streets of his native Chicago, and then moved on to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and USA Today, before coming to the Milwaukee Journal in 1986.

A general assignment reporter, Cuprisin traveled Eastern Europe on several projects, starting with a look at Poland after five years of martial law, and a tour of six countries in the region after the Berlin Wall opened and Communism fell. He spent six weeks traversing the lands of the former Yugoslavia in 1994, linking Milwaukee Serbs, Croats and Bosnians with their war-torn homeland.

In the fall of 1994, a lifetime of serious television viewing earned him a daily column in the Milwaukee Journal (and, later the Journal Sentinel) focusing on TV and radio. For 15 years, he has chronicled the changes rocking broadcasting, both nationally and in Milwaukee, an effort he continues at

When he's not watching TV, Cuprisin enjoys tending to his vegetable garden in the backyard of his home in Whitefish Bay, cooking and traveling.