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Conan O'Brien -- Such a Hard Decision

1/10/2010 2:25 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF

Conan O'Brien is sitting on a decision that could be worth as much as $80 million, sources tell TMZ.

Conan O'Brien, Jay Leno

We broke the story that Jay Leno will be reclaiming his old time slot. There has been speculation that NBC exercised a loophole, which would allow the network to give Conan a portion of his time slot back (12:05-12:35) without having to pay Conan a penalty -- but sources tell us that is not the case.

We're told NBC is in breach of it's agreement with Conan by moving the start time of his show. As a result, Conan now has three options.

Option 1: Quit the show and spend the next four years at the beach. If Conan does this, our sources say NBC would have to pay him the value of his contract. We're told it's a five-year deal, worth as much as $20 million a year. With four years to go, Conan could conceivably get $80 million. But given his skin pigmentation and, possibly, his ego, the beach is unlikely.

Option 2: Go to either FOX or ABC. This is where it gets complicated. If Conan were to strike a deal with either network to do a competing show, any salary Conan pulls in would offset the obligation owed by NBC. So, for example, if Conan made $20 million a year at NBC and ABC were to pay him $15 million a year, NBC would only owe Conan $5 mil a year for the four years remaining in his contract.

Option 3: Eat crow and take the 12:05-1:05 time slot. If Conan takes this option, our sources say it's likely NBC would negotiate a new contract with the same salary Conan was getting before. Even though the salary isn't supported by the time period, it's cheaper than paying him off. NBC, we're told, prefers this option, because Conan would not be splintering Leno's rating by going to another network.

So, Conan, will it be door #1, 2 or 3?

Stay tuned ...

153 COMMENTS

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31.

smarfy    

Way to eff up the only successful thing you had going, NBC. Your late night leaders are now mired in contract hell. Way to go.

1561 days ago
32.

creep    

Just put it back and have egg on your face. Why people keep expressing there likes/dislikes is retarded. Treat it like a job. All that matters is the ratings so WTF. Why is Jimmy an object, he just stepped in. They obviously did not give him a long term contract. Funny how David and Leno's drama just managed to coincide.

1561 days ago
33.

King Beef    

I say take the 11:05-12:05 time slot and let Leno fail. His show is bad enough as it is but having it be only 30 minutes would make it even worse and he will really screw himself. I know NBC is trying to screw you, Conan, but once that happens and your contract is up you can ask for a whole lot more money.

1561 days ago
34.

Andy    

Go to ABC (FOX doesn't quite fit), preempt Leno by starting at 11 p.m., and lead into and boost Kimmel. Give Conan $19 million, and make NBC pay the $1 million differential, enough to be symbolic but not too petty.

1561 days ago
35.

JJ    

The real issue is why isn't anyone watching NBC anymore?

And the answer is that the network stinks..............

This is a good example of it.

1561 days ago
36.

Ziggy    

$20 million a year is too much money for one person. It's no better than the Wallstreet and corporate crooks who ruined America. It's absolutely outrageous any normal person should care one bit about Conan or Jay Leno's contract problems. They both could lick my butt, because I could care less.

1561 days ago
37.

WhoaNelly    

Leno sucks and Conan walks.

1561 days ago
38.

cochino    

Way too much money to sit there asking dumb questions. For what they're paid, they should write their own material too.

1561 days ago
39.

sarah    

If I am reading these options correctly and I were Conan, I would go to ABC or FOX for $1 a show. Yes, $1 a show and have NBC pay me the rest to be on the other network! :-)

1561 days ago
40.

California Justise    

I hope he goes to Fox where can air earlier AND go back to being him more edgy irreverent self. Although I hear this is unlikely since his time on the Simpsons gave him sort of a bad taste for Fox. ABC would just be another network to try and tame him & he's not as funny that way!

1561 days ago
41.

b. posey    

Leno never said he was retiring:NBC told Leno he would be out in 2009. They wanted to bring in Conan.
The viewers sent countless e-mails saying keep Jay but they wouldn't listen.
Jay had the top ratings over conan and letterman.
Conan and Letterman are not funny but Jay is I watched Johnny Carson for years. When Jay took over he was great and still is.
Keep Jay Leno!

1561 days ago
42.

Donald Ray    

Someone PLEASE tell me, WHY is Conan called a 'comedian. He's as funny as a case of gonnorea.

1561 days ago
43.

Geez    

I find it all rather crass how they are handling The Tonight Show. It was Conan's dream to host TTS and now, its just taken from him putting a lot of people out of work.

1561 days ago
44.

Joseph    

Ok, I know Harvey is the Lawyer and all, but I thought if NBC breachs ths contract, they are liable for 100% reguardless of if Conan would leave and sign with ABC or Fox. I dout a such loop hole was put into a contract if one party breach the contract, X is done. The entire idea on a contract is you sign the dotted line for X amount to do X job. A job contract should not be like a marriage where you can have a prenup in case the boss wants to screw their employee over. I dout it be with ABC since they have Kimel.

1561 days ago
45.

iwanttoholdyourbigtits    

$20,000,000.00 a year??!!! WTF!!! I'm funnier than Conan.......and I'd be happy with $5,000,000.00 a year......an no I dont have any skeletons in my closet a la Tiger.....so I'm sponsor friendly too!!!

1561 days ago
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