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In his 12 years in charge of booking musical guests on Conan O’Brien’s “Late Night,” Jim Pitt always listed U2 and Johnny Cash as the dream artists he’d tried but never succeeded in getting.
He lost his chance with the late Cash, but the U2 dream is coming true Thursday in a major way.
O’Brien will turn over his entire show to the band, which is in New York for seven sold-out engagements at Madison Square Garden.
“We were able to offer them something to feel enough like an event for them to do the show,” Pitt said. “It’s basically ‘Late Night with Conan O’Brien,’ the U2 edition.”
The NBC show has never before devoted itself entirely to a musical guest, although it gave major time a few years back to a holiday appearance by bandleader Max Weinberg’s other employer, Bruce Springsteen.
O’Brien’s a big U2 fan, and made a personal connection by talking at length with Bono during breaks in rehearsals for the band’s “Saturday Night Live” appearance last season, Pitt said.
It may be a nervous time for Bono, who is nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for his work in trying to ease Third World poverty. People who watch the Nobel closely list the lead singer as one of the favorites. The winner is expected to be named Friday.
The band is expected to perform three songs and be interviewed by O’Brien.
Pitt is not pushing for any material in particular.
“When U2 decides they want to come on the show for an hour, you don’t get too picky about what they play,” he said.