‘Conan’ corrals director

Allan Kartun reunites with O'Brien for TBS talk show

Conan” has found its helmer: Allan Kartun will be joining Conan O’Brien as he launches his latenight talkshow next month at TBS.

Kartun reps the latest member of Team Conan to make the leap to the Warner Bros. lot, where “Conan” will be shot. Kartun previously directed “The Tonight Show With Conan O’Brien,” which earned him an Emmy nomination earlier this year for directing in a variety series.

“It’s going to be a new adventure,” Kartun said. “There are going to be new challenges in the photography of this new show. You’re going to see that the set is quite different. There’s going to be a greater degree of intimacy between Conan and the audience. And there’s more a sense of theatricality in this new set.”

That’s in line with what set designer (and TV Academy topper) John Shaffner told reporters this summer.

The inspiration for the theatrical theme (designed by Shaffner and partner Joe Stewart) came from O’Brien’s nationwide “Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television” tour, which gave O’Brien the theater bug. From a direction standpoint, Kartun said he’ll be conscious of finding camera angles that convey that intimacy.

“It won’t be always about looking for the grandest, biggest shot possible,” he said. “That works in big event TV, and that worked on ‘The Tonight Show.’ But in this environment we want to communicate a greater sense of the relationship between Conan and the audience.”

With “Conan” set to debut on Nov. 8, Kartun said the show’s production team is in the middle of starting up the production — the second time in a little more than a year that the group has been involved in a major show startup.

“We’re where we expected to be less than a month out,” Kartun said. “I think we’re in good shape.”

The “Conan” team will start shooting some test shows during the week of Oct. 25 to get up to speed and ready for the official TBS premiere. Meanwhile, because “Conan” will air weeknights at 11, a half-hour earlier than “Tonight,” the show will likely shoot closer to 4:30 p.m. Kartun joins a majority of former “Tonight” and “Late Night” staffers who have now made their way to “Conan,” including head writer Mike Sweeney, announcer-sidekick Andy Richter and band leader Jimmy Vivino (replacing Max Weinberg).

Kartun said he spent his time off between “Tonight” and “Conan” traveling, as well as directing the TBS special “Team Coco Presents the Conan Writers Live.”

Before “The Tonight Show,” Kartun was also the director on “Late Night With Conan O’Brien.” His non-Coco credits include Comedy Central’s “Let’s Bowl” and “The Chris Wylde Show,” as well as HBO specials toplined by standups Robert Klein and Paul Rodriguez.

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