Groff ankles ‘Late Night’ for new NBC gig

Vet staffer Sweeney upped to chief scribe

HOLLYWOOD — Conan O’Brien’s head writer is moving from “Late Night” to primetime.

Jonathan Groff, chief scribe of the NBC talker since September 1995, is ankling in order to create and develop comedy series for the Peacock via a new overall deal with NBC Studios.

Mike Sweeney, a veteran “Late Night” scribe, has been tapped to replace Groff as head writer. The transition will take place next month.

“We are thrilled that Jonathan is bringing his exquisite abilities that have added so much to the success of ‘Conan’ to NBC Studios’ primetime efforts,” said NBC Studios topper Ted Harbert. “We have every confidence that he can create hits” for the network.

A former standup comic, writer for MTV’s “The Jon Stewart Show” — and a five-time “Jeopardy!” winner — Groff joined “Late Night” in January 1995 and was upped to head writer nine months later. During his tenure, skein snagged five Emmy noms and won two WGA awards.

“I have loved every minute of working on ‘Late Night,’ ” Groff said. “After five great years, I want to explore other areas, including creating episodic television and giving life to new characters.”

Sweeney, who also began writing for “Late Night” in 1995, previously worked as a writer on Comedy Central’s “Short Attention Span Theater” and for several awards shows. He’s also performed as a standup comic.

“Mike Sweeney is the perfect choice to help us with our transition from latenight comedy to 24-hour financial news,” O’Brien quipped in a statement announcing Sweeney’s appointment.

Lorne Michael and Jeff Ross are the exec producers of “Late Night.”

Groff and Sweeney are both repped by UTA and the Sarkes-Kernis Co. Groff is also repped by attorney Jared Levine.

More TV

  • Kamala Harris

    Joe Biden and Kamala Harris Face Rematch in Next Democratic Debate

    Former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris will have the opportunity to square off again in the second debate among Democratic hopefuls vying for their party’s nomination in the 2020 presidential election CNN, which will broadcast the next round of debates on July 30 and 31, televised a draw Thursday night that decided [...]

  • Jon Wax

    Jon Wax Joins Amazon Studios as Head of Genre Programming

    YouTube’s head of scripted programming Jon Wax is joining Amazon Studios as its head of genre programming, Variety has learned. Wax will take up the position recently vacated by Sharon Tal Yguado. He had joined YouTube in August 2017, heading up drama, unscripted and current programming for YouTube’s premium channel. Prior to that, he had [...]

  • South Park Donald Trump

    TV News Roundup: Comedy Central Sets 'South Park' Season 23 Premiere Date

    In today’s TV News roundup, Comedy Central announces the premiere date of “South Park” Season 23 and Netflix sets the premiere date and offers a first look at “Unbelievable.”  DATES Comedy Central announced that Season 23 of “South Park” will premiere Wednesday, Sept. 25 at 10 p.m. Because the episodes are written and animated so [...]

  • US actor Kevin Spacey (C) is

    Kevin Spacey Shouldn't Be Exonerated in Hollywood Even as Criminal Case Ends (Column)

    The news that criminal charges against Kevin Spacey in the Nantucket groping case have been dropped raises an inevitable question: does this mean he can claw his way back into Hollywood’s good graces? Or maybe more importantly: should it?  Spacey’s rapid descent was startling, even as it quickly followed that of the once untouchable producing [...]

  • Game of Thrones

    HBO's Return to Emmy Nomination Dominance May Be Short-Lived (Column)

    As Hollywood braces for the coming streaming wars, HBO’s huge Emmy nomination haul this week sent a new salvo Netflix’s way: The streamer may have the volume, but HBO still has the goods. At least this year. HBO’s record-breaking 137 nominations came on the strength of just 23 programs — led, of course, by “Game [...]

  • Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer

    Starz Nears Realignment: Why Lionsgate Won't Hire a CEO to Replace Chris Albrecht

    Nearly six months after Starz CEO Chris Albrecht exited in February, Lionsgate brass is moving closer to a revamp of the premium TV network’s executive structure. According to insiders, at least one thing is clear: Albrecht is not expected to be replaced as CEO. Instead, Lionsgate chief executive Jon Feltheimer is taking a more active [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content