Conan O’Brien Realizes His MTV Dream

Conan O'BrienConan O’Brien will host the MTV Awards on April 13, which, according to him, helps him realize his lifelong dream. He calls the MTV Movie Awards the “second most prestigious” show of its kind. The MTV Awards are an in-your-face version of the Oscars – irreverent, like Lindsay Lohan’s hip-hop dance opening as host in 2004 or 2013 host Rebel Wilson’s fly-in from Australia – contemporary, youth-inspired, and outrageous. Not unlike the movies they honor, and not unlike Conan himself.

O’Brien had been host since 1993 of Late Night (12:35am), ushering in a bold, new youthful slant on late night television. He was 30 at the time. In 2009 he took over the position of host from Jay Leno of The Tonight Show (11:35pm). Both shows were on NBC. When Leno threatened to move to ABC, NBC gave Leno a new slot at 10:00pm, thereby upstaging O’Brien once again. Both hosts began doing poorly in their ratings. And, NBC’s response was to move Leno back to 11:30pm, but only for half an hour. O’Brien would start at 12:00am and keep The Tonight Show.

Born in Brookline, Massachusetts, he was one of six children to a noted epidemiologist and Harvard Medical School professor who was also a partner in a law firm. O’Brien attended Harvard and become president of the parody magazine, The Harvard Lampoon, twice – a place of distinction. Upon graduation, he moved to Los Angeles and began writing for a cable station and performing improv.

Now 50, Conan O’Brien is for the first time realizing what he says is his dream of eight intense years of negotiation, in finally hosting the annual MTV Movie Awards. Because the Awards are so unpredictable and off-beat, some critics are skeptical that it’s the right fit for O’Brien whose strengths lie in direct people contact rather than speaking to an entire audience. Critics feel that the Emmys – which he hosted twice – are better suited to his style. Will his performance in April be awesome or awkward? According to some, the hope is that he keep his scripts to a minimum and allow his spontaneous wit to come to the surface.

An example is his video (below), showing his enthusiasm at being asked to host. The mischievous approach that is part of the Awards ceremony – with popcorn-shaped trophies and categories of “best gut-wrenching performance” and “best villain” could well fit with O’Brien’s style of sardonic humor.

The 2014 MTV ceremony will also give a glimpse of movies to expect this summer, depicting images that had not previously been shown in public. The nominations are being announced this morning at 7:00am ET at

But for Conan O’Brien the big moment is five weeks away, when he walks into his dream as host of the MTV Movie Awards and MTV realizes that, yes, they have made the right choice. As O’Brien said in a recent tweet that, as the prior host of both Late Night and The Tonight Show, he wanted to congratulate Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers. He wanted to let them know that they’ll both do great.

By Fern Remedi-Brown

Vanity Fair
Entertainment Weekly
Conan O’Brien, Biography

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