POSTED: Monday, June 1, 2009 - 8:17am

UPDATED: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 - 2:24pm

Conan to make debut on "Tonight Show"...

After more than 50 years on the air, "The Tonight Show" enters a new
era tonight, with Conan O’Brien taking over as host.

O’Brien was a nobody when he took over "Late Night" 17 years ago and he came very close to being an unemployed nobody.

"I know they wanted to cancel me and were about to cancel me and I think they just never got around to it," said O’Brien.

But O’Brien and his show eventually caught on and that paved the way for tonight's move taking over for Jay Leno.

"Especially when you read the media, it can feel like Evil Knievel jumping Snake River Canyon. What's going to happen? At the end of the day, it's me coming out to be a jackass," O’Brien said.

But in a very different environment from New York.

"I don't want to do a retooled late night with Conan O’Brien an hour earlier. Southern California and being in a new environment is going to fuel our creativity," said O’Brien.

Band leader Max Weinberg is also making the move to L.A and former sidekick Andy Richter is rejoining the show.

They get started tonight with Will Farrell as guest number one.

"I don't want will Farrell on his best behavior. I don't want anyone on his best behavior. I think that guests are best when they're not behaving," said O’Brien.

Which makes Conan’s main job that much easier.

"Just make sure the show is funny and the rest should take care of itself," O’Brien joked.

Along with will Farrell, Pearl Jam will be the musical guest.

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