Conan O'Brien announced late Monday that he would be joining TBS for a new talk show that will begin at the end of the year.
It's a bit of a surprise, since Fox was making strong overtures to get Conan. Fox, however, which doesn't have 10 p.m. programming, was in a difficult spot trying to get its affiliates on board, since many of them already have syndicated programming such as "Seinfeld" reruns scheduled in the 11 p.m. hour.
Fox, however, was going to try to make it work before TBS came in as a dark horse.
It's an interesting move for both Conan and TBS. George Lopez, the first Latino to have his own talk show, agreed to move back an hour to make room for Conan at 11 p.m. Before people get into a possible feud between Lopez and O'Brien, it was Lopez's people who came up with the idea.
In a way, it works out better for them. They have less competition at midnight and Conan gives Lopez a stronger lead-in. Meanwhile, TBS, which has worked hard to re-imagine itself as a network for comedy, gets O'Brien while he's at his hottest.
For O'Brien, he's going to a network that reaches all but about 15 million homes and will get a half-hour jump on Jay Leno and David Letterman. It could also mean his show will lose big numbers about halfway through if viewers decide to switch channels at 11:30 p.m.
Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have proven that cable is a viable option in the late-night wars, so it will be interesting to see how Conan fares in a crowded field.
WEDNESDAY'S BEST BETS: After four seasons, "Ugly Betty" (ABC, 10 p.m.) wraps up tonight for good. The show was a charming comedy that was a big boon for Latino characters when it first debuted, but the writers didn't do enough to develop the show in subsequent seasons, leading to a lot of sameness in the plots. Still, it featured a star-making performance from Emmy winner America Ferrera. It follows new episodes of "The Middle," "Modern Family" and "Cougar Town," all beginning at 8:30 p.m.
"Human Target" (Fox, 8 p.m.) wraps up its first season with a flashback as to how the team got together. While not a very deep show, it's been a lot of fun, especially Jackie Earle Haley as a rather deranged genius, so I hope it sticks around for another year. It's followed by "American Idol" at 9 p.m.
CBS airs new episodes of "Old Christine," "Accidentally On Purpose," "Criminal Minds" and "CSI: NY."
On cable, Mary has to help a former cop who's been in a coma for several years on "In Plain Sight" (USA, 10 p.m.) at the same time as her future in-laws visit.