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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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46.

moveover    

What other network would be stupid enough to hire him? He was last in the ratings in the time slot. He had his chance .. he tanked. Take the beach, Conan!

1686 days ago
47.

hatenbc    

#2 is best for all (Conan, his staff and us the viewers).
most of you in this chain fail to understand that (unless his contract says he does not need to find a replacement job), he can't just sit on the beach and he can't just take $1 per year either.
he has to minimize his damages. if Fox would offer him $20 million per year, he needs to take it, and NBC would presumably owe him nothing. if he took only $5 million from Fox, when Fox was willing to pay $20 million, NBC could claim that they don't owe him anything because he could have minimized or eliminated his damages by taking $20 million.
there may be some penalty in addition, but doubt he is able to do what some here suggest.
but, this is good news that NBC is in breach by moving him a half hour....conan should screw NBC royally and leave, and then send the masturbating bear to the NBC morning show to masturbate behind the glass in the background.

1686 days ago
48.

c    

Go back home to Fox (Simpsons), Conan would kick Jays ass

1686 days ago
49.

Shelly    

Putting Conan at 11:30 was a huge mistake to begin with. He is not funny AT ALL and belongs behind the scenes writing comedy. I have no idea how he has lasted this long on tv to begin with. NBC late night right now stinks, I liked Jay's 10 show. The only funny people in late night right now besides Leno is Craig Ferguson and Jimmy Kimmel. Also, why does everyone seem to think that Conan could go to ABC?? They have no intentions of changing their format and would never ruin a good thing by adding an unfunny Conan to the mix.

If NBC wants to FINALLY get it right, then they need to get rid of Conan (which should have happened YEARS ago!!)and Jimmy Fallon and put Jay back at 11:35pm and then bring someone in that is actually funny and a good interviewer for the 12:35 slot. Like Bonnie Hunt!! She has been very good in her daytime show and is funny and a great interviewer!! Right now NBC has 2 of the most unfunny people in their late night setup.....Conan and Fallon.

1686 days ago
50.

Roger C    

Somehow, I doubt #3 works as TMZ says it does. Why would NBC pay Conan millions for quitting and going on another network? Did they get their lawyers from the yellow pages? Come on people.

1686 days ago
51.

Jack    

Down with Jay !!!!
Please join my facebook group "Save Conan, and put Jay out to pasture" http://www.facebook.com/jackdonnelly?v=feed&story_fbid=1287498518483#/group.php?gid=248110963306&ref=mf

Remember to watch ,or program your televisions to tape THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH CONAN O'BRIEN every night .

Also remember to make a face like you just tasted sour milk when someone brings up the Jay Leno show, or the idea of Jay moving back to the tonight show.

1686 days ago
52.

Jaggen    

Jay Leno WAS The Tongiht Show Jack #48. Conan is terrible at being a pro host to these pro celebs. He just lacks class and tact. Conan needs etiquette classes, many months of them on a daily basis, maybe twice daily. Who talks on live TV in a pro interview with a celeb about the embarrassing things Conan does? This is why Conan never has that great of guests unless these celebs managers beg them to go on his show. When he was in NY the Cali celebs did not have to worry, they just avoided NY or booked over at Dave Lettermans. Conan has nothing on Jay. He never will. Jay is king of Late Night and has always been. This is why Jay dominated the ratings for over 14 years between them all. All the ppl that used to watch Jay at 11:35PM will all come back and watch him again, News will get its viewers back as well. Its a win-win situation for everyone but Conan. Conan must be crazy if he thought he could sweep in and handle Jay's audience or that they would stay viewers no matter the age. Conan really is liked by very few as a host. Now as a writer Conan is outstanding. Thats is exactely what he should do instead of trying to play it safe in Hollywood, go back to writing. Conan could come up with some sitcoms that would rock TV in a big way. He needs to think outside the box.

1686 days ago
53.

cs    

Why haven't any of the stories on this issue mentioned Jimmy Kimmel? They keep saying one choice is for Conan to go to ABC, but does that mean ABC will fire Kimmel? And his show starts at 12:05, so Conan would be on at the same time on ABC as NBC is offering him, but with NBC he keeps The Tonight Show. I don't think people are considering that particular point - that's a very famous program and has a very long stellar history. THAT was Conan's dream and it came true - I can't see him giving that up a mere 6 months or so later. If he goes to Fox or ABC, he is just the host of the Conan show, on NBC (even with Leno taking the first half hour) he keeps the Tonight Show name.
One question I have though, is this - in all the discussion of this, one option was that if Conan leaves NBC, they will give Leno the 11:35 slot - does that mean he just gets the Tonight Show back? I guess so. I wish Leno could have been gracious in retirement, but he just couldn't give up that soapbox every night to tell his lame and obvious jokes on the happenings of the day. Shame really, I did like him and always thought he was a nice guy, but his actions were pathetic - holding on so tight to the spotlight that he torpedoed Conan and not even with a hit show.

1686 days ago
54.

Tony    

If Conando takes the 12:05 time slot, where will Jay go? Back to 11:30? NBC f-ed them both over, so they should both move to ABC or FOX as a huge "F you!" to NBC!

I'd go for option #2. I don't see Conan doing the first option AT ALL! You can tell he loves his job.

1686 days ago
55.

Oscarswede    

Brian rocks, go for no 1
www.oscarofsweden.com

1686 days ago
56.

Danny666    

http://tvbythenumbers.com/2010/01/04/4th-quarter-dave-and-craig-are-big-late-night-winners/37559
The numbers are available at the link above.

There is a reason Leno is being 'called up' into the 11:35 timeslot. It's not that his 10 PM show that's the problem it's that Conan has lost almost half the total audience Leno handed to him. Leno was still getting the 1.5 rating weekly average in the key demo that was promised.

I like how Conan apologists are thinking there's another network that would take Conan, when he couldn't even get decent ratings from a franchise show that's been around since the golden age of television. It's kind of like the Lennie character and the Rabbit farm in Of Mice and Men. Suuuure, you'll see Conan on FOX, now sign that buyout Conan.

Here are the numbers.

Leno Q4 2008 3.5 household rating. 5.03 million viewers. 1.7(25-54) 1.3(18-49)
Dave Q4 2009 2.8 household rating. 4.00 million viewers. 1.4(25-54) 1.1(18-49)

Conan Q4 2009 1.8 household rating. 2.55 million viewers. 1.2(25-54) 1.0(18-49)
Dave Q4 2009 3.0 household rating. 4.22 million viewers. 1.4(25-54) 1.1(18-49)


CONAN LOST TWO AND A HALF MILLION VIEWERS A NIGHT(SOON TO BE THREE MILLION)! If a company bought an ad that ran nightly, that's 25 million less eyeballs not seeing their ads, 1.3 billion a year!

Again, this is very sad situation, that Leno is being put in. He's basically going to have to prop that burden Conan up again. And useless Conan who's not earning his pay is still going to get paid the same. Conan has no shame.

Luckily for Leno he'll just carry that burdern Conan until Leno's short contract is up. And when ratings rebound to their normal high Leno numbers, he'll bolt to another network. Maybe CBS in 2012.

But notice how NBC isn't even talking about letting Leno go(he's too valuable). It's all about Conan. They'd love it Conan agreed to leave.

1686 days ago
57.

jonhomesclock    

In the late night wars, Craig Ferguson wins because he has a huge well hung dong. As big as fellow Scot Rod Stewart. All he has to do is pull down his pants on live TV and he'd be the king of late night, or the kong, or whatever...

1686 days ago
58.

Interracial facial    

All I can say is poor Andy Richter. He waited all this time to be Conan's Ed McMahon and now the 2nd banana will get tossed and have to go back to bit parts in failed sitcoms.

1686 days ago
59.

Rikki    

You've got option #2 completely wrong. Even though NBC has breached the contract, if Conan takes a job elsewhere, he's in breach himself and he effectively waives his right to further payments from NBC. In other words, they can't make him be on their network, but they can keep him off of everyone else's (unless, again, he's willing to waive further money from them). If he wants to keep their money, he has to take option 1 or 3.

1686 days ago
60.

Penis Hilton    

Conan, there's always the Pee Wee Herman hasbeen jerkoff theater gig. Just don't get caught.

1686 days ago
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