It’s been rumored for days and days now, but today it was made official: NBC and Conan O’Brien have officially finalized a settlement that pays him a large monetary sum and effectively removes him from The Tonight Show so that former host Jay Leno can take it back over and try and regain the ratings they once had.
Details of the agreement state that NBC will actually have to shell out about $50 million to make all of this disappear. One of the big issues was that Conan not only wanted a large sum for himself, but he felt that his entire staff deserved to be compensated as well, especially considering that many of them moved to L.A. with him when his seven-month stint on The Tonight Show began. All-in-all, it looks like O’Brien will take down about $33 million for himself, with the rest going toward the 190 staff members. It also appears that O’Brien offered a chunk of his own payoff to go toward his team members, so he may have been initially in the $40 million range.
Though this wasn’t final until today, everyone was well aware that this was the last week for O’Brien. And while it appears that the settlement will allow Conan to seek a job at competitive networks as early as September, who knows how long it will be before fans get to see him again, and that’s a depressing thought.
Continue reading for more, and to see a video of how Conan O’Brien is currently going out with a bang on NBC’s dime.
One of the more tragic losses in all of this, are the evil and hilarious brain children of Conan O’Brien. Genius creations like Triumph the Insult Dog, Conando, and the many other gag characters that were introduced over Conan’s near two-decades at NBC will all remain there as the network owns the intellectual rights. Considering that no one else would dare use them for anything, we can all sadly accept that they are all now dead and buried. That is, of course, unless Conan uses his sneaky wit to jump a loophole with new characters that are exactly the same somehow, which I hope and expect to see.
From here we look to the future. It is expected by many that O’Brien’s most likely destination will be Fox, whom he worked for as a writer on The Simpsons and who have been wanting to get a late night talk show for a while now. In fact, Fox’s offers were the reason that The Tonight Show was originally promised to Conan, in an effort to keep him at NBC. Though Fox looks to be the top possibility, don’t count others out, either. A ridiculous amount of money is going to be thrown at Mr. O’Brien from many different directions, so we will have to see how it all plays out.
As far as Leno is concerned: he will end his current show on February 11. After the upcoming Winter Olympics conclude, then Leno will re-take his crown as the host of The Tonight Show in its normal spot.
We’ll end on a happy note with a look at a video from Conan’s last week on The Tonight Show. The host may be taking in about $33 million, but he’s not going to stop from forcing NBC to fork out more money. O’Brien decided to go on a little spending spree and add a new character to his arsenal for NBC to own when he leaves: a Bugatti Veyron Mouse dressed as a mouse whose theme song is “Satisfaction” but The Rolling Stones!