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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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61.

Artrina    

If Conan and Leno are both such hot talents I say it would be good for BOTH of their egos for Conan to go to another network. Let them BOTH have 11:35 time slots alongside Letterman - THAT would mean ant least one of the 3 biggest egos in comedy would come in #3.

1755 days ago
62.

ml    

I love Jay Leno! I hope he does go back to The Tonight Show at 11:30 pm/Eastern time. I am not too impress with Conan O'Brien and I haven't watch his show at all. O'Brien's TV rating is going so low. I don't know why NBC hired O'Brien in the first place. This NBC's problem. I don't watch NBC Network anymore because they play 'politic' and it is owned by General Electric. I heard that General Electric sold NBC Network to the TV Cable Company. My old favorite The Tonight Show's host was Johnny Carson.

1755 days ago
63.

jeff in la    

If option 2 is true, Conan should sign a deal with Fox for $1 a year, forcing NBC to pay $19,999,999 per year of his salary. How great would that be, NBC having to pay almost 20 million dollars a year to their competitor. This would be the ultimate stick it to NBC.

Go Conan!!

1755 days ago
64.

Stella    

Leno is not funny. He is as good as a sleeping pill.

1755 days ago
65.

Joe    

Or if he really wants to screw NBC, do option #2 for $1 with abc or fox. NBC have to fill in the rest...

1755 days ago
66.

dave    

How about the fact that Conan's cast and crew packed up their lives and families and moved across the country to do the Tonight Show?

This has got to suck for them.

1755 days ago
67.

NORTON ANTIVIURS INC.    

balls

1755 days ago
68.

G2K (Good To Know)    

Option 2 is the obvious answer although I think whoever agreed to that contract on NBC's is an idiot. OR Conan's people are brilliant. Conceivably Conan could be paid $1.00 by a competitor to go against Leno. I think it's more of a sign of the times. All of the networks are clinging to old models of success. There will NEVER be another Johnny Carson. Network TV will NEVER have pre internet, pre cable numbers again. The only ones who don't know that are the networks who sinking money into late night TV. Stewart and/or Colbert could own late night on the networks if they chose to.

1755 days ago
69.

FULGY    

I cant stand this pos!!!

1755 days ago
70.

OOWEEE    

WHITE TRICK ALERT!!!!!!! With a Team of over a dozen Writers neither one of these Jokers can make it through a monologue. These two Creeps have no talent whatsoever, they are just two additional privileged white actors that remain on Television with no Talent, No personality, and no Skills. All the writers in the Hollywood can't help either one of these WHITE TRICKS.

1755 days ago
71.

lmao    

FUNNY about Conan's skin pigmentation ha ha. Serves him right after all of those incredibly lame fat jokes about Kristie Alley and Star Jones.

I personally think he will go thru door #3. Why? Because it's always better in the long haul to keep working.

1755 days ago
72.

UGGGGHHH    

I say GET RID OF CONAN. He is not worth 2 CENTS.

You ever see CONAN OBRIEN laugh his head off then makes a STRAIGHT FACE right after?

What a PHONY. CONAN OBRIEN IS NOT FUNNY AT ALL.

1755 days ago
73.

stonecold    

We're told NBC is in breach of it's agreement with Conan

--------

What is so hard about learning when to write "its" rather than "it's"?

1755 days ago
74.

S    

I stopped watching both of them and Letterman too. Too frat boyish and not funny. They need some women writers.

1755 days ago
75.

fd68cecc    

I miss Johnny Carson.

1755 days ago
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