Conan O'Brien: Free At Last!

What's the going rate for an unfair firing these days? About $45 million if you hosted a late-night talk show on a major network. The Conan O'Brien vs. NBC saga is finally coming to an end, says The Hollywood Reporter, as both sides have agreed to a deal that frees O'Brien from his contract with NBC and includes a whole lotta stipulations.

First, let's talk money—since that's what the whole kerfuffle was about. The entire settlement is reportedly worth between $45 million and $50 million, with Conan pocketing $32 million and his staff sharing $12 million. But don't feel too bad for Johnny the Janitor; reports say O'Brien will be supplementing his employees' severance packages out of his pocket.

O'Brien's last night behind the desk of The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien will be tomorrow (Friday, January 22), with Conan repeats airing until the start of the Winter Olympics. After that, Jay Leno will return to The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on March 1, global warming will cease, world peace will rule, and the long war between cats and dogs shall end. Or so NBC believes.

The deal also bars Conan from hosting another show until September, and all the characters Conan created for his shows—including the lovable Pimpbot, the very relatable Masturbating Bear, and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog—will *gulp* remain the property of NBC, which will let them collect dust in their mausoleum of stolen artifacts. Triumph is the cash cow here, and he should belong to Robert Smigel, who does all of the delightfully distasteful dog's improv and masterful puppeteering.

The final tally? Conan received the dream job he worked his entire life for for a total of seven months.

The big questions now: What will Conan do next? What should Conan do next? And how will audiences respond to the return of Jay Leno?


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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Feb 03, 2010
I don't think NBC lives in reality.
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Jan 26, 2010
Well, ain't that a lot of good news! I hated Conan's crap puppet comedy and am more than happy to see it gone. Of course, I have no real opinion about the Tonight Show, given that I neither liked Conan nor Leno too strongly and it falls during Colbert time.
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Jan 25, 2010
Conan was always my favorite, but let's face it, his ratings were low, and he lost to Letterman, which Leno didn't do (although I don't know why). If your ratings are low, you're out, no matter how many fans you have (since ratings = sponsors and sponsors = money). This was purely a business decision from NBC, not sure if it was good or not, but don't hate it. NBC still has 30 Rock, The Office, Parks and Recreation, SNL and more good comedy programs. And it's not like other networks are perfect. FOX cancelled Arrested Development, the funniest show ever and they air that right wing, biased and unjust political garbage...
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Jan 25, 2010
Maybe if Leno cries enough NBC may let him steal Triumph the Insult Comic Dog for his show, I mean he stole ideas from Letterman, and during the writers strike, who paid their staff out of their own pocket, Letterman, Conan and then Leno had to give in and do the same, yes it is all about Leno, who cares who he steps on, he sure doesn't. Break a leg Leno, no really beak a leg.
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Jan 24, 2010
Hey Warrior_Swan, don't be hatin' on Firefly :( Great final episode. Conan had a very heartfelt message to the fans that did NOT include any Leno/NBC bashing. God luck Coco. Hope you guest on Letterman March 1st. Stick it to bigjaw Leno and NBC.
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Jan 24, 2010
I've got two words for Conan. Crime.Drama.
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Jan 24, 2010
You know, I might be the only one here, but I ALWAYS likes Leno less than Leterman, so obviously this whole kerfuffle, makes me like Leno even less. Sure, it wasn't really his fault, it was more NBC mishandling the whole thing, but Leno sucks even more to me now than he did before. He's coming BACK after all this? I haven't really been watching his atrocious new show so I don't know how he's spun all the news PLUS his shows ratings just being the joke of the tv world, but I just don't know how he can come back after this (and I missed the Conan finale so I didn't get to see any potentially infamous last words on his part about the official leaving after less than year).

So basically this is just all pathetic and I hope Conan gets a good new good come September....and I guess i'll miss triumph :( .
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Jan 24, 2010
wow
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Jan 24, 2010
I hope Conan's able to move on and host a more cutting edge show on Fox or elsewhere. I haven't been watching it alot, but I heard that he had to tone down his antics from the Late Show when he moved over to "tonight" (which caused his ratings to slip somewhat in that time slot).
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Jan 24, 2010
I saw Conan's final episode last night, I swear I almost cried... When Conan gets a new show, I'll be sure to catch it.
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Jan 24, 2010
Leno cried like a little b**** and NBC caved in and let him have his way. Leno sucks a** and was never funny. Maybe to the brain dead people with no sense of humor. Conan should go on the Letterman show the same night Leno comes back and lets see whom gets the better ratings.
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Jan 24, 2010
looking forward to having Jay back used to set my timer for Jay not going to watch Conan wherever he is Conan should just grow up and admit he had LOUSY ratings
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Jan 23, 2010
I'll tell you how this audience member will respond. By resuming my non-watching of Leno that's been going on for the past 10 unfunny years of his career. I'll follow Conan wherever he goes, because honestly, he's been my favorite forever. I grew up on Conan, and he gets funnier by the year, unlike some large-chinned fools.

Firefly wouldn't have proven itself if given a decade. It was a crappy show from the start, and would have gone downhill from there.

Leno hurt all of the NBC affiliates. The local news stations complained for months about how Leno was affecting their ratings. So don't say it has nothing to do with a lead-in. It has everything to do with a lead-in. It also has nothing to do with Leno having better ratings, it has to do with money. If they had chosen to drop Leno instead of Conan, the severance pay would have been so much higher.
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Jan 23, 2010
Shauna29 and adk4e seem to be brain dead,so don't pay attention to their comments.Probably NBC executives trying to ease things up!
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Jan 23, 2010
Some kid got conan to autograph a jay leno headshot and now hes selling it on ebay, read about it on mslinx.com/conan-index/
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Jan 23, 2010
Man, i will tell you right now, for me, that was the best 7 months in the entire history of The Tonight Show., without a doubt.Screw NBC, i won't be watching the show ever again, out of principle.Really ticks me off we won't be able to see Conan host a show until September, that's absurd.I hope he does go to another network and doesn't just decide to retire, his brand of humor leaves all the others in the dust, frankly.A show on HBO would have me subscribing just to watch it.And ratings don't mean quality, for the record.
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Jan 23, 2010
I think it is going to be hard to return for Jay Leno, well not really hard, but there is deffinitly going to be a back-lash, from all of the Coco fans. I hope that Conan will be able to get another late-hight talk show gig, I like his comedy. The real bad guys in this whole war of the hosts, were the big wigs of NBC.
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Jan 23, 2010
Conan has no reason to complain. He got bad ratings (don't care who the lead in was. Remember before he got the show Leno was beating Letterman and no one could say that NBC 10pm was a rating champ. Also Conan was losing to Feguson), show got moved (not even cancelled), he balked, and NBC still gave him over $30million. Not bad. People say only 7 months? But some TV Shows now only air once, sometimes 3x's before being yanked. And no one involved walks away with severance. If only firefly had 7 months to prove itself!
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Jan 22, 2010
I prefer Leno over Conan. Dont really care about what NBC dead do Conan I'm sure its NBCs fault. still... glad to have Leno back to his place
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Jan 22, 2010
WHAT??? Triumph stays on NBC??? NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!
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Jan 22, 2010
Of course I can't answer that, but I hope it's not part of the agreement. It would be classic TV. Conan would not even have to risk badmouthing NBC or Leno for fear of legal reprisals. Dave would be happy to do it for him.
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Jan 22, 2010
@kale18

That's the best idea I've ever heard. Seriously. Genius.

Though I wonder if his stipulations of not being on TV til Fall hinder him from doing that.
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Jan 22, 2010
Dave Letterman should book Conan to appear on The Late Show the same night Leno returns to The Tonight Show.
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Jan 22, 2010
"THE COCO SHOW" with Conan "Conando" O'Brien -
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Jan 22, 2010
Conan is a wonderful caring man and God bless his heart, he would give the money up in a second. I hope he gets a show he truly deserves and I gotto say, he was the bigger man here and Leno should have said no. We love you Conan. See you very very soon buddy.
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Jan 22, 2010
just say no... to leno! until coco on fox next fall, try a little letterman, he gets better with repeated viewings!
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Jan 22, 2010
Oh and DAVULTURE- George Lopez hates Jay Leno. Just thought you should know. Jimmy (though I think is secretly on Team Coco) and Carson are just happy to have jobs are not publically picking sides (NBC probably told them not to).
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Jan 22, 2010
This is just awful...I do hope he gets a deal somewhere else, like FOX. Conan would give up all the cash in a heartbeat to continue doing this dream job and its a shame he only got to do it for 7 months because of stupid NBC and Jay Leno and his "talent".
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Jan 22, 2010
Great NBC, you can't be smarter... (notice sarcasm)
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Jan 22, 2010
Congratulations to Conan, I seriously lost all respect for NBC and Jay Leno. As have most of his peers (excluding George Lopez, Fallon and Carson Daly as they suck). Hopefully now Conan can appear on an episode of Kimmel, Ferguson or Letterman to talk about the ordeal.
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Jan 22, 2010
I for one will NEVER watch The Tonight Show as long as Jay is hosting--I watched him before, but no more. I hope Conan get's a show on Fox ("Tonight with Conan"??) at the same time and rocks them all!
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Jan 22, 2010
what Coco should do is he should start a production company, lets say....Coco Productions, create a NEW show, lets say Tonight with Conan, and sell it to a network...you know similar to what Dave Letterman did because NBC screwed him too....this way no one can screw him over again because if they try, he can just take his show elsewhere and screw the network right back
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Jan 22, 2010
Johnny Carson is spinning in his grave, NBC is spinning out of control, and if there is justice...?...Conan is going to spin up right into the stars! Go Conan! Sorry Jay, I know this mess isn't your fault, but you are destined to be the "Biggest Loser" here. You shoulda told them get stuffed...
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Jan 22, 2010
It disturbs me with the amount of spin and misinformation being tossed around as the saga nears its end. NBC is now talking about how the whole Leno moving to 10 PM thing was an experiment. It was merely an experiment. If it was really an experiment then they would have had backup plans and backup plans for backup plans which would have been in contracts. This was no experiment. NBC gambled and utterly failed exactly as EVERYONE predicted. As a result of NBC's stupidity everyone is suffering. NBC lost 5 primetime TV slots per week which killed off shows. Southland was lost, of course. NBC will likely now insult the viewers by filling the now empty 10 PM time slot with more reality garbage. The saddest part about the situation is that neither Leno or Conan should really be blamed or hated. Conan signed a contract with NBC years ago saying that he'd take over the Tonight Show in 2009. He stayed with NBC when he could have left for other networks because of his contract and because his dream job was to host the Tonight Show. Jay Leno has signaled in recent years that his retirement was approaching but I don't feel he's ready. He got strong-armed into moving to the 10 PM time slot by NBC. That wasn't Conan's fault. Now, with the utter disaster of a situation NBC wants to move Leno back to 11:35 PM as if it won't negatively impact a number of things. Whether stated in writing or not the Tonight Show is a 11:35 PM EST time slot and moving it makes it no longer what Conan signed his contract for. NBC breached its contract with Conan. Conan has a right to be beyond upset. The unfortunate part is that with Leno taking over the Tonight Show this taints its success and history. NBC dropped the ball. NBC made stupid stupid decisions. NBC insulted and mistreated its viewers. I doubt we'll see it happen but there should be a bunch of executives fired who were involved in the whole "experiment" moving Leno to his 10 PM show. Some people will be mad at Leno for not just retiring and letting Conan keep the show. Leno was forced to step down from the Tonight Show to begin with. Conan isn't the only one who got abused. This entire situation further demonstrates that TV networks and their executives really don't care about the viewers OR their own shows. It's all about money and they think they can treat the rest of us like we are idiots. I want to see people start boycotting entire networks Maybe when ratings drop to 0 and no advertisers want to give a network money they will finally understand that the viewing public needs to be listened to.
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Jan 22, 2010
I wish Conan would still host the show. Yeah, it's show buisness but I don't think it's fair that they're firing Conan from the show just because Jay's show isn't doing well.
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Jan 22, 2010
I'm never watching Leno again.
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Jan 22, 2010
The NBC bosses are a bunch of douches for letting Conan go.He is by far the best talk show host on television.
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Jan 22, 2010
I think Conan's mistake was listening to the higher-ups at NBC and adjusting his humor for the "broader audience" whatever that means. I gave his show a week and stopped watching because the Conan I knew and loved had turned on his censor circuit and also started booking lame-o bands. Since the news of his demise, his ratings among the 18-32 demographic has shot up 50%. It's not just because of the controversy. It's because he reverted back to his true wacky self and booked bands that don't suck. If he went to FOX and stuck to his guns, he'd kill in the ratings. AND he'd give FOX their first real shot at owning late night.
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Jan 22, 2010
Kudos to Conan for taking care of his staff. They all moved to LA and it wasn't their fault that this happened.
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Jan 22, 2010
I hope Tonight show dies. If I was famous I would refuse to do it from now on. (yes, it would possibly hurt my career). Conan rules. Hopefully he gets to do something else he really enjoys, and can bring most of his crew on with him, especially Andy Richter.
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Jan 21, 2010
I hope Leno's show crashes and burns just as a "screw you NBC". I lost a lot of respect for Leno but i don't hate him, who wouldn't do anything to hold on to fame? I wouldn't but then again I'm not a douche.
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Jan 21, 2010
Yes, it sucks that Conan got shafted by NBC, but it also sucks how NBC FIRST shafted Leno by taking the show out from under him "In an attempt to keep Conan on NBC", Jay was forced out of his rightful place as host. They should have just left things as they were before, no switching hosts around. Jay should of stayed on "Tonight", Conan with "Late Night" and Jimmy not hosting anything. It also sucks that people are putting so much blame on Leno for this, it was NBC that switched things around, it was NBC that put Leno on at 10 (remember, they were keeping him under contract to stay with the network, so it was work at 10 or not work for another year on any show), it was NBC that wanted to switch things around again. Leno WORKS FOR NBC, he isn't incharge of it, he didn't decide to make the changes, it isn't his fault Conan walked away from "Tonight" - it was the network that screwed him over. Leno is just opting to take NBC's offer to take back his old show... Conan did take the #1 latenight talkshow and run the ratings down the drain, so it isn't like he kept the momentum going that Leno kept for 15 years(don't get me wrong, I like Conan, but the show just wanst the same without Jay) - I went from watching "The Tonight Show" AND "Latenight" every night to not watching for the last couple months, only started watching again in the last couple weeks. And Jay's show was going to fail from the start given the affiliates not giving the show a chance (some areas didn't even show it) so who knows, maybe if they woudlnt have messed up the aireings, he may have gotten better numbers (maybe not a ton, but would have had more than he had). NBC should have given BOTH shows longer to try and get a footing, but they would rather just make a bigger mess to try and stop the down slide now, rather than risking the loss of some of the affiliate stations, its all about the money here.



Let Leno take his show back. Let Conan go to FOX. I'd love to see a compition for ratings between Jay, Conan, and David... really see who the king of late night really is.
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Jan 21, 2010
conan should create himself a new show with all the staff back and it should be on FOX just to piss off NBC
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Jan 21, 2010
Wow. Lots of hate for Leno. Who cares? Conan will be fine. He has lots of fans and enough money to last him beyond September. I hope Leno will be fine as well. Poor guy's getting a good part of the blame for this.
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Jan 21, 2010
I can't believe NBC gets to keep the characters hist staff created. That's absurd. I will vomit if any of them show up on Leno's show. I hope he falls on his ass along with NBC. If Chuck wasn't on NBC, I wouldn't even bother with the network.
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Jan 21, 2010
Conan deserves to be free from that mess. I still say he needs to go on Letterman as a guest the night that Leno comes back. Dave should interview him for a segment and then he should sneak behind Dave's desk and interview Dave for a segment. Just eat into Leno's return and bury him like the dog that he is.
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Jan 21, 2010
Jay Leno will be the demise of NBC late night. The people have spoken...TWICE!
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Jan 21, 2010
I prefer Letterman, but Conan got a raw deal.If NBC wasn't happy with his ratings then let him go and replace him with someone else.Jay Leno's ship has sailed, he's a college guy going back to high school.David Letterman deserved the Tonight Show when Johnny Carson retired, this situation just proves it.
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Jan 21, 2010
Actually the even bigger question is, if you don't care what Conan does, or any of them for that matter, why are you reading this news story let alone commenting on it???
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Jan 21, 2010
I want to know why Leno could not be on after Conan's Tonight Show. He should had gotten more time to improve his ratings, it didn't help that his lead-in was a failure. I hope Conan gets a new show on another network and does better than Leno will back at his old job. Leno is not funny anymore.
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