Chin Up at NBC, Part V: Conan O’Brien and NBC Reach the Deal
This morning, NBC officially announced a $45 million settlement with Conan O’Brien, facilitating his departure from “The Tonight Show,” reinstating Jay Leno as of March 1, and allowing O’Brien to return to the air on another network as early as Sept. 1, 2010.
From the Associated Press:
Under the deal, which came seven months after O’Brien took the reins from Leno, O’Brien will get more than $33 million, NBC said. The rest will go to his 200-strong staff in severance, the network said in an announcement on the “Today” show.
His final show will be Friday, with Tom Hanks scheduled to appear as well as Will Ferrell — the first guest O’Brien welcomed as “Tonight” host last June — and musical guest Neil Young.
“In the end, Conan was appreciative of the steps NBC made to take care of his staff and crew, and decided to supplement the severance they were getting out of his own pocket,” his manager, Gavin Polone, told The Wall Street Journal. “Now he just wants to get back on the air as quickly as possible.”
As has been widely reported, O’Brien has not been offically (or, shall we say, publicly) offered a deal with Fox or any other potential suitors such as Comedy Central, but watch this space closely, because something dramatic is likely to happen in the next weeks, possibly next week — aw hell, it could happen today for all we know.
For those of you with memories that extend back to the 1992 late-night war chronicled in Bill Carter’s “The Late Shift,” David Letterman made an announcement surrounded by CBS executives as soon as NBC released him from his contract. Here’s what I suspect will happen: O’Brien will continue on with his shows tonight and tomorrow (and trust me, pay close attention to what Neil Young plays on Friday). Then on Monday morning, O’Brien and his new bosses will hold a press conference announcing his new show.
As Chase requested, here is Letterman’s scathing comment on the situation from Tuesday:
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