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TBS touts Conan O'Brien for an Emmy -- for his work on NBC

TBS has started an Emmy campaign for Conan O'Brien in Variety magazine. But the ads are stumping for an NBC show – the defunct 'The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien.'

By Staff writer / June 8, 2010

This YouTube screen capture shows a TBS ad for its new Conan O' Brien late-night show, which will debut in November. TBS is also unveiling magazine ads that push for Mr. O'Brien to win an Emmy for his work on NBC's 'Tonight Show.'

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Has cable network TBS lost its mind, or is it in fact a cunning TV genius?

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Neither, probably, but the second might be closer to true. At least when it comes to Conan O’Brien.

TBS is taking what might be an unprecedented step: It is trying to help a show on another network win an Emmy.

There is, of course, a catch.

That show is NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien,” which no longer exists, having reverted to its previous host, Jay Leno, in rather acrimonious circumstances. Mr. O’Brien, meanwhile, has made the switch to host a new late-night show on TBS.

And that’s the genius of TBS’s new ads in Variety magazine. They ask that Emmy voters consider O’Brien’s version of “The Tonight Show” for an award.

Technically, one of the two TBS ads asks that the pasty O’Brien be considered for “outstanding achievement in the use of SPF 50.” The other asks that voters give O’Brien – a man with 1 million followers on Twitter – “one more thing to tweet about.”

But the implication is clear. A win for NBC would be a much greater win for TBS – a critical raspberry lacking only the waving fingers behind the ears and stuck-out tongue: We’ve got Conan and you don’t.

So don’t be surprised if NBC doesn’t send a thank you letter to the execs at TBS.

O’Brien’s new late-night show on TBS will begin in November. He will also host a one-hour comedy special on TBS on June 27.

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