Conan: I Got Very Depressed
Conan O'Brien says he "got very depressed at times" as a result of his exit from NBC, but has no regrets about his decision and now is "doing great."
"It was like a marriage breaking up suddenly, violently, quickly. And I was just trying to figure out what happened," the former Tonight Show host said during an interview with Steve Kroft Sunday night on CBS' 60 Minutes.
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But putting his comedy tour together helped him get through the rough patch. "I started to feel better almost immediately," he said in his first interview since the late-night debacle. "There is almost no better antidote to what I've just been through than to do this every night."
When NBC announced it would reinstate Jay Leno back at 11:35 p.m. and push O'Brien back to 12:05 a.m., O'Brien said his discussions with the network become unpleasant.
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"It just felt like the tone went very quickly from, 'Take your time, we understand this is a tough decision,' to [snaps fingers] you know, 'Let's go.' And that probably helped me a little bit feel like, 'You know what? This environment doesn't feel right ... I really don't like the way this is going.'"
O'Brien's wife, Liza, said she agreed "a hundred percent" with her husband's decision to leave.
"It felt like [NBC] lost their nerve to really make a change, and that was too bad," she said. "It was a shame, because it would've been great to see what he could've done if he had had their full support, and had some more time."
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Although O'Brien laughed at the idea that both he and Leno "got screwed," he still said it's hard to say who won and who lost.
"I'm happy with my decision. I sleep well at night. And I, you know, hope he's happy with his decision," he said.
While neither Leno nor NBC Universal chief Jeff Zucker have called him since the $45 million exit deal, the 47-year-old O'Brien figures they will cross paths again. "I'm not sure we're going to be — have our arms around each other and drinking beer and singing old Irish fight songs. Because I don't think they know any," he joked. "But, you know, this is going to sound crazy — I do wish these people well."
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O'Brien said there's one point he wanted viewers to take away.
"I'm doing great. I hope people still find me comedically absurd and ridiculous. And I don't regret anything," O'Brien said. "I do believe, and this might be my Catholic upbringing or Irish magical thinking, but I think things happen for a reason. I really do."