NBC Fires Back: Conan's Staff Requests "Nothing More Than A PR Ploy"

Jan. 19 2010, Updated 11:38 a.m. ET

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The divorce between NBC and Conan O’Brien continued to get messier Wednesday, as the network said the Tonight Show host's attempts to gain cushy severance packages for his 200 staffers "is nothing more than a PR ploy."

"It was Conan's decision to leave NBC that resulted in nearly 200 of his staffers being out of work," the network said in a statement, referring to the earlier proposal O'Brien rejected to move the show to a 12:05 a.m. EST start time. "We have already agreed to pay millions of dollars to compensate every one of them."

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Not so, said Conan's rep, Gavin Polone, who added that "Conan's first priority is and always has been to take care of the employees of the show -- he paid them out of his own pocket during the writer's strike, when NBC laid them off."

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O’Brien's staff -- about 190 people -- includes about 60 to 70 workers who moved from Los Angeles from New York when O'Brien took over the helm of the legendary late night franchise last year.

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