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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 ...


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What do you mean you "broke the story?" NBC released the details LONG before TMZ had even woken up.

1685 days ago


What about the non-compete clause? Is that out the window because NBC goofed? Seems to me that Conan has other opportunities than the ones you mentioned. He could take leave, take the $$, go back to NY, and write a book! Bet there is a publisher in the BIG APPLE who would love this chance. And isn't Conan a writer? Seems like a natural fit. Then there is the whole Oprah quitting the afternoon talk show and soaps disappearing so there is a void in daytime TV, maybe it is time to re-introduce a MERV like or Mike like show? (a variety/talk show that could showcase talent and events and allow for moments like the CESAER to BURNETT skits - where Conan has the chance to really showcase his talent). I believe Conan doesn't have to be crude to be funny so he shouldn't confine his prospects to late night or SIN CITY venues. He would be a great fit to do a MERV LIKE show and personally I would love it to appear on CBS!

1685 days ago


Take option #2, SCREW NBC!!!!!! Go to another network, compete against Leno, blow him out of the water and have NBC still send ya a check......
NBC likes to SCREW people over, cheap bastards!!!!!!!!!!!!!

1685 days ago


Have never been able to stand Conan and have never thought he was remotely funny. Love Leno but not at that time slot. NBC really screwed this one up.

1685 days ago


PS- I like the Tonight Show the way is it now, I've gotten used to it!!!!
Jay can't handle 10pm, doesn't that say something?????? hmmmmmm, NBC is stupid!!!!!

1685 days ago

Me NBC's stuck with Mr. Chin? That's their reward? A guy who was a no-talent at 11:30, who refused to drive one of his cars off into the sunset, and who became an even bigger no-talent at 10:30?

I think no matter what, Conan will be the winner in the end.

1685 days ago


Door #1 and take Letterman with you

1685 days ago


FUNNY!!! You start your report by saying Conan's new time slot at NBC would be 12:05 to 12:35, then you list one of his options as Eating crow and accepting the 12:05 to 1:05, bang up job

1685 days ago

PB & J    

Conan is funny but a bit too quirky for that time slot. I don't know that he has the staying power of a Jack Paar or a Johnny Carson. He's better as a late late night host. Unfortunately those slots are already taken by somewhat adequate hosts. I would take Option #1, get a nice place to 'retire' and buy plenty of sunscreen. I don't think anyone would think any less of him for doing that if they were given the same opportunity.

1685 days ago


Jay wanted to leave the Tonight Show and have a new show, since the ratings suck it should be canceled and he goes off the air, just as the network would do with any other 'new' show. What NBC is doing is wrong on so many levels. Conan should tell them to shove it.

1685 days ago

Peter Tran    

Jay Leno isn't even funny. If he ever makes a bad joke, you could tell by the expression on his face that he just wants to kill himself on the spot. Conan does something about it and makes it into a joke. Consider Conan as someone who would be working in the TMZ newsroom talking smack about other celebrities, which he already does, but you can catch my drift. Whatever Conan does, he'll still be making that dough. Oh, and if a TMZ staff member is reading this, give props to whoever writes most of the articles, amazing grammar!

1685 days ago

Grammar nazi    

"it's agreement"

TMZ, there's no apostrophe in "its" when used as a possessive. When are you going to hire a copy editor? It's hard to take you seriously.

1685 days ago

victor the crab    

Conan should do whatever it takes to make Jeff Zucker and his fellow douchebags at NBC suffer and squirm for this. Conan is being royally screwed by the unfunny Leno, who should just pack up and ride off into the sunset, along with his legion of humorless acolytes, into a deep dark canyon.

1685 days ago


keep midnight conan! half an hour of jay is plenty! and you save your crew as well as yourself.

1685 days ago


Go back to the way things were. Toss Fallon (who seems obsessed with making fun of all things Obama - huge turn off. It's a lame attempt at trying to be edgy).

1685 days ago
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