Report: Conan getting $40 million to walk from NBC

Conan O’Brien is nearing a deal to split with NBC’s Tonight Show for a $40 million payout, according to The Wall Street Journal. The deal would end the ugly dustup that has ensued since the network announced plans to move Jay Leno back into the 11:35 p.m. timeslot after his prime-time berth tanked in the ratings. O’Brien’s deal would reportedly bar him from (further) disparaging the network, but would allow him to land somewhere else in less than a year — instead of making him sit out the remaining two-plus years on his contract.

Related story: On Monday night, Jay Leno addressed his planned return to ‘The Tonight Show,’ ongoing negotiations with Conan O’Brien


Comments (128 total) Add your comment
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  • Jeff

    I hope he shares some of that money with the staff he is putting out of work.

    • Elizabeth

      Jeff: that’s about $8 million of the plan.

      Lest you forget: Conan did a lot for his staff during the writers strike, including paying them out of his pocket.

      • wino

        as did Leno and other late night hosts….(pay staff personally )

      • Ugh

        Wrong, Wino. Jay Leno went back to work with NO writers (first late night host to return during the writer’s strike) and they were NOT paid. Dave Letterman was the first to make sure his company paid his crew and writers during the entire strike. Leno didn’t, and was highly criticized.

    • Rick

      I highly doubt Conan’s putting his people out of work. They’ll get some of this money to cover the vacation they get for the next few months then they’ll be working on whatever show he gets next.

    • Trevor


      Conan isn’t putting anyone out of work… NBC is!

    • Alex Morris

      Jeff – really? Are you that envious of wealth? If you want to go make $40 million, no one is stopping you. Conan has been great to his staff, and part of his deal was to ensure they are well taken care of. (sigh) Go back to work!

    • RC

      I hope he donates a mil to Haiti disaster relief.

      • alex

        And what have you done?

      • dave

        Why? It’s his money, why waste it on a place that was a sh*thole before the earthquake and is even more of a sh*thole now?

    • Will J

      Hmm…I wonder if this ‘Jeff’ is Jeff Zucker? ;)

      • Oguz

        haha…you’re good Will J, could be him ;-)

    • Kris

      It would be nice of Conan to pay his writers but why should he? Hes not the one who axed himself. Let NBC compensate them.

      • A Turner

        I think NBC will handle the staff differently. I doubt all/any of them will have to fend for themselves after this. More importantly, they put a price on his dream. Aren’t dreams priceless?

      • wino

        well, he could’ve had the midnite slot, but he refused, thus in a way, he is putting them out of work. not that i blame the guy, but just pointing out its not as cut and dry

  • Dak

    Ooooooh Good for you Conan .NBC proves that they are a bunch of wimps. Go to FOX now.

  • John

    I will so boycott the Tonight Show if Jay in fact returns.

  • Hernan Giaggio

    Also, Jeff, I’m not sure how he’s putting them out of work. Fox has already said they would love to have Conan. So they could get started building sets other prep work as soon as the Spring.

    • Finley

      The writers, producers, directors, graphic artists, and musicians will probably not be taking part in the building if the sets. I’m guessing these people will be out of work for a while.

  • Tom Brazelton

    Kind of interesting the NBC would reportedly have it built into the agreement that Conan can no longer disparage the network. They’re pretty much admitting to being stooges with that move.

    • Des

      I completely agree, I am turned off NBC and how they handled this, I refuse to watch Leno ever again, no respect for him either.

  • wizard62

    This deal won’t “end the ugly dustup” as far as viewers are concerned. I for one want nothing to do with Jay Leno, NBC, or their advertisers any more. As a Conan fan, this whole debacle has left me with bitter feelings towards them. I’ve switched to Letterman now and I really like both his and Craig Fergusen’s shows. Very funny. I’ll stick with CBS from now on, thanks.

    • alvar hanso

      I think it’s sad that viewers needed an incident like this to realize that David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, and, frankly, a lukewarm bowl of oatmeal are funner than Jay Leno has been on The Tonight Show.

    • Andrew

      People like you make me laugh.

      • Buddy

        And people like you make babies cry.

  • nando

    Jeff; I don’t see how it’s Conan’s fault for putting his staff out of work. That was NOT HIS choice. If anyone is to blame for this mess is NBC.

    • quispy

      I agree. The offer for Conan to host TTS was not really an offer but a demotion.

      Leno should just retire. I don’t buy his excuse that NBC is making him work.

      • Angela

        I agree 100%.

      • Cronos

        Jay’s attempts to make it seem like he’s been screwed over by NBC too in this whole deal is ridiculous. Jay needs to retire (again) and stay retired. I’ll be switching up to watching any NBC shows online.

        No More Jay Leno!

    • Christian

      Except if Conan had accepted the move to 12:05, he wouldn’t have put anybody out of work. I’m not arguing against Conan, but if his primary goal was staff retention, he would’ve accepted the move as that would’ve resulted in the fewest layoffs. Now that the Leno show and Tonight show are being recombined, people will lose jobs.

  • JayBone

    They are getting around 8 million of the settlement.

  • Scott

    I can’t wait until Conan is a guest on Letterman…

    • pauch

      how will that be entertaining if Conan is contracted to not say anything negative about nbc?

      • Ian

        It’ll be entertaining because Letterman can say whatever he wants. Conan doesn’t have to say a word for it to be entertaining.

  • jmlee

    this sucks. i’m going to miss “coco” o’brien. nbc screwed up royally.

  • Fred

    I wish *my* employer would give me $40 million to leave my job.

    • jon

      Second that

    • jessica

      amen to that!

  • Kj

    And with this plan, Jimmy Fallon gets royally screwed, too. With Leno back as a weak lead-in, his ratings will suffer even more.

    • Michael

      Late Night with The Roots is the only show on NBC I’ll watch after this week. It’s all the Today Show with Law and Order and Dateline anyways. Same crap, different day.

    • RyRyNYC

      ummm… Leno has higher ratings. Your logic is incorrect.

  • tim

    Does that mean team COCO can use the 40 million to buy back the show off of Craig’s List?

  • Anne

    Good to see some people realize that NBC has caused this problem–not Leno. And hey–you try something and it doesn’t work–you learn and go on to the next phase. People should stop trying to demonize a corporate mistake and the entertainers caught up in it. Conan and his staff will be well compensated for NBC’s mistake.

    • choy

      its Leno’s fault too. he could have done the classy way and declined the 11:35 gig. Conan did the same thing by refusing to screw Jimmy Fallon and refused the 12:05 gig.

      Leno may not have started this mess, but he has his hands dirtied in it

      • Dave

        Agree with Choy. NBC is primarily to blame, but Jay Leno got his hands dirty too. If Leno had more respect for Conan and The Tonight Show itself, he would have been opposed to it being moved to 12:05.
        5 years ago when they first made the deal for Conan to take over, Leno made a great statement about going out while you’re still ahead and not wanting to ruin another friendship (as in what happened between him and Letterman). But now he went back on his word and got himself into another mess because he wasn’t willing to let someone else have their time to shine. He should have graciously stepped back and told NBC that he didn’t want to see Conan get pushed around. If NBC really needed Leno at the network, hey could have settled for him doing a show once a week, like on Friday nights or something, which I think could have been successful.

      • Tamarat

        Couldn’t agree more. Leno has undermined Conan from the very beginning. He should have walked away and passed the torch to Conan without incident as he promised to do five years ago.

  • Joe

    Conan is not funny, nor has he been for quite some time. He cried his way into the Tonight show slot and he ran it into the ground. He will get mediocre ratings (at best) when he jumps to fox network. If I was NBC, I would tell him to take a hike and flip him a nickel on his way out the door. LOSER!!!

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