"I felt like I'd just been in a car accident ... It almost made me cry."
Late night talk show host and all around funnyman Conan O’Brien, whose new TBS talk show Conan will premiere in just a few short weeks, is featured on the cover and in the pages of the new issue Rolling Stone magazine. In his coverstory interview, Conan opens up about the depression he felt in the wake of losing his hosting gig on The Tonight Show and explains what his life was like after he completed his nationwide Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour. Here is our first look at Conan on the cover of RS mag and some excerpts from his coverstory interview:
In July, shortly after his Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television Tour wrapped up, Conan O’Brien began visiting the set of his new talk show, at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California. For various reasons, the show had not been staffed yet, nor had the set been built, so on those days, O’Brien would occasionally pause en route to his office and stand alone in a giant, empty warehouse … O’Brien had lost his dream job as host of The Tonight Show in January, at a speed (seven months!) almost as humiliating as the circumstances of his departure (ousted for Jay Leno, which is the comedy-world equivalent of being left at the altar for a cast member of Jersey Shore). “My wife says those first couple of months, the thing I said most often was, ‘Wait a minute, what just happened?’” O’Brien recalls. “Those weeks after the tour, where not much was going on, Conan was miserable,” confirms his wife, Liza Powel, a blunt and dryly funny former advertising executive with whom O’Brien has two children. “That was when he was the most depressed.” Powel says she had “all sorts of grand designs” about keeping her idled spouse busy: He would be responsible for camp drop-offs, he would cook dinner at least one night a week. None of which ended up happening. O’Brien did go for long bicycle rides, and read lots of history books. At a parents’ night at their son Beckett’s preschool, there was a stack of volunteer sign-up sheets, and O’Brien, who still had too much time on his hands, became overly ambitious and started signing up for everything: “Oh, I’d love to come talk to the kids about natural history!” “He was in the house all the time,” Powel recalls. “I said, ‘This can’t last – it’ll drive us crazy!’ Literally every 10 minutes, he’d poke his head in the room and say, ‘I don’t wanna bother you, but do you know where the Band-Aids are?’ ‘I don’t wanna bother you, but do you know how to use the phone?’ He was so sweet about it, and I felt like such a jerk. But seriously, I almost rented an office for him.” The morning after O’Brien’s final Tonight Show – his second-highest- rated episode ever, quadrupling his average nightly viewership – he and Powel drove up to a resort in Montecito. “I felt like I’d just been in a car accident,” O’Brien says. “Like a crazy mix of elation, anger, sorrow. Confusion was a big one.” That night, when they entered the dining room and the other guests stood up and applauded, O’Brien says, “It almost made me cry.”
This Rolling Stone excerpt continues after the jump, where you will also find a photo from Conan‘s RS photospread as well as behind the scene video from the shoot … More »