Conan O’Brien to Close Nearly $30 Million Exit Deal With NBC, Say Sources
January 16, 2010
(ChattahBox)— Despite all of the public acrimony between NBC and Tonight Show host Conan O’Brien, in the end it always comes down to money. The Washington Post is reporting this morning that NBC and the pompadoured comedian are close to reaching a deal to allow O’Brien to exit his contract and take his comedic stylings to another network. According to a source, NBC is prepared to pay O’Brien the sum of about $30 million, or an amount very close to the money he would have earned on the remaining three years of his Tonight Show contract.
According to a Washington Post source “who requested anonymity because this person values being employed,” the parties are expected to finalize the deal over the holiday weekend. And despite recent statements made by NBC saying Conan would be barred from TV during the duration of his contract, the deal would permit Conan to appear on a competing network.
It’s been widely reported that Conan would exit as host of The Tonight Show next week, with Jay Leno to resume his perch at the popular late night program. Conan issued a statement earlier in the week rejecting NBC’s offer to remain as The Tonight Show host, but at the later time of 12:05 a.m. Leno was to be given the coveted 11:35 p.m. spot for 30-minutes. O’Brien said in his lengthy statement that he would not contribute towards the “destruction” of a beloved late-night franchise.
The NBC soap opera has been dominating the stand-up routines of late night hosts, including Conan O’Brien and Jay Leno. And comedians like Jimmy Kimmel and Rosie O’Donnell have come out against Leno’s “Indian Giving” of The Tonight Show to O’Brien. All of the bad press led Leno to quip on Friday’s program, “I’m getting beat up in the press. You know it’s bad when Tiger Woods calls to offer you PR advice.”
And O’Brien cracked on Wednesday’s show that, “The Tonight Show has been the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for me — and I just want to say to the kids out there watching: You can do anything you want in life. Unless Jay Leno wants to do it too.” On Thursday, O’Brien referenced NBC’s threat to keep him off the air, “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.”
And on Friday O’Brien quipped, “In the press this week, NBC has been calling me every name in the book. In fact, they think I’m such an idiot they now want me to run the network.”
Source: Washington Post