Tonight Show host Conan O’Brien is definitely leaving NBC and will not only receive a payout, he’ll also be allowed to appear on another network before his contract expires, according to a new report.
The story – from thedailybeast.com – quotes what it calls a ‘knowledgeable source’ who says the amount of the payout to O’Brien is not yet specified, but that the funnyman will be free to appear elsewhere on television well before his contract expires, despite threats from NBC brass saying they would stop him from working at another network.
On Thursday night’s Tonight Show, O’Brien addressed that story head-on saying: "there's a rumor that NBC is so upset with me, they want to keep me off the air for three years. My response to that is, if NBC doesn't want people to see me, just leave me on NBC."
Thedailybeast.com also reports there is still opportunity for the negotiation to fall apart, but that NBC is obviously eager to fix it’s late night disaster – fast.
As RadarOnline.com has previously reported, NBC’s original plan was to move Jay Leno’s primetime show to 11:35 p.m. EST, and push back the start of the Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien to 12:05 a.m. EST. O’Brien publicly blasted that idea, saying the Tonight Show wouldn’t be the Tonight Show at that late hour and openly slammed NBC in an open letter addressed ‘To The People Of The Earth.’
Thedailybest.com reports that Ron Meyer, a former agent who’s now the well-liked chief of the Universal film studio, played a key role in bringing the parties together when they were at an impasse and talks had broken down.
According to the source, it comes down to money and the size of the check that NBC would write to O'Brien.
It remains unclear where O'Brien might go next, but since ABC appears committed to Nightline, Fox would be the most obvious choice.