January 21, 2010

Conan O'Brien inks severance deal with NBC

Posted: 08:46 AM ET

Conan O'Brien has signed a deal with NBC to walk away from "The Tonight Show," the network confirmed Thursday.

"NBC confirms a deal is signed and an official announcement will be made this morning," said NBC spokeswoman Allison Gollust.

The network did not provide details on the agreement, but the deal is expected to include a severance payment of about $32 million for O'Brien plus about $12 million for his staff, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The newspaper said the pact could contain a "nondisparagement clause" for both O'Brien and the network. It is also expected to bar O'Brien from appearing on other shows or hosting his own show for a period of time, sources told the Journal.

O'Brien has been at odds with NBC since the network tried to push "The Tonight Show" to a later time slot. The dispute erupted into a weeks-long controversy that galvanized fans of the show and roiled the entertainment industry.

The deal, which was reportedly inked at 1 a.m. PT on Thursday, would reinstate Jay Leno as host of "The Tonight Show" at 11:35 p.m., the Journal said.

O'Brien's departure comes after NBC abruptly decided to cancel "The Jay Leno Show," which had received lukewarm ratings after only three months on the air. The network sought to give Leno a half-hour show at 11:35 p.m., and then move O'Brien's "Tonight Show" to 12:05 a.m.

O'Brien, who has hosted the show for just seven months, objected to the change. He said in a Jan. 12 letter addressed to "People of Earth" that moving the show back would "seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting."

Filed under: Conan O'Brien

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Kelly   January 21st, 2010 9:10 am ET

How much of the $32 million of overpay will he donate to Haiti? This is the problem with America- wrong priorities.

Expat American   January 21st, 2010 12:07 pm ET

$32M is not a bad deal to 'walk away' from a job. Too bad people who have worked their whole lives and have lost their livelihood while in their late 50s and early 60s can't get a mere percentile of that.

Conan stopped doing 'In the Year 2000'. They should give him less money for discontinuing that sketch.

trm   January 21st, 2010 1:27 pm ET

Thank Goodness this war of the words is almost over!!!! O.K. Conan we know you were dealt a raw deal but ENOUGH is ENOUGH!!!! I've heard all the whining I can deal with. It's not funny anymore. 32 million isn't too bad a deal - I wonder how many times he thought of the people of Haiti throughout his grumbling?????!!!!!

George   January 21st, 2010 3:19 pm ET

True, the world has far better concerns than the Conan Leno spat. They will go on being friends, people are dying, losing jobs, homes, and we are sick of hearing of how hard rich people have it .

jan   January 21st, 2010 4:05 pm ET

Jay leno from UK perspective isn't funny. Why did he leave the show in the first place???? He ain't funny!
If I was this guy I'd take the money then prove the network wrong.

Kristin   January 22nd, 2010 4:49 pm ET

Give to Haiti Konan, and stop whining with your millions! ....Unfortunately we will never have another Johnny Carson & Ed McMahon, a TRUE CLASS ACT!...It hasn't been the same since they left! The Johnny Carson DVD library is and always will be hilarious! It is an American Classic....: )

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