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Conan's Royal Screw Up

1/13/2010 10:00 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF

Conan O'Brien may have a claim against NBC, but not because the network wanted to move his show to 12:05 AM.

We're now told Conan's contract never specified a guaranteed time period. If NBC wanted to run the show at 3:00 AM, Conan would have no recourse. We're told Conan's reps never even asked for a guaranteed time period when they negotiated his contract -- shocking, but true.

By contrast, we're told Jay Leno's deal specifically guarantees his 10:00 PM time period, so the network must negotiate a new deal with him before he moves back to 11:35 PM.

NBC did guarantee that Conan would host "The Tonight Show," and the network has been willing to make good on that promise.

As for Conan's legal position, his claim is a lot more tenuous than first reported to us. We're told Conan is arguing -- given the history of "The Tonight Show" -- there is an "implied" guarantee the show would begin at 11:35. Our sources say Conan's people met with NBC execs yesterday afternoon ... presumably to negotiate a settlement and an out.

Some of the high level people who oversee "The Tonight Show" are saying Conan has himself to blame -- at least in part -- for his failure. They say he refused to take notes from his bosses, saying "I do what I do."


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Previous 15 Comments | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11


STOP LENO-BASHING AND LOOK AT THE FACTS. NBC is the culprit here. Leno was running "Tonight" in first-place, in terms of both ratings and annual awards, for years, when suddenly NBC decided to fire him so that Conan could move up.

NBC MADE THIS MESS SOLELY TO PLACATE CONAN, who had been complaining and manipulating his bosses for years. Bending to this silliness, NBC decided to fire their proven #1 horse in the late-night time slot, their TOP REVENUE-PRODUCING, SURE-FIRE "Tonight Show" host, the hard-working, dedicated Jay Leno.

Be fair. Jay Leno has taken one day off the show in the 17 years he had it. In addition to all the shows he has worked - nearly equalling all that Carson taped, in slightly over half of the time the Great Man worked -- Jay also flies out to Vegas every weekend and does shows there, and at other places around the country, such as the "free shows" he did for laid off workers in Detroit. JAY LENO HAS NEVER ASKED ANYBODY FOR ANYTHING. HE WORKED HIS WAY UP FROM WHEN HE WAS A KID, AND HE DID IT THE HARD WAY, FROM THE BEGINNING TO THE END, WITH CLASS AND WITH DIGNITY.

In that vein, when NBC -- his EMPLOYER -- came to him and said, "Jay - you're in FIRST PLACE, you produce TONS OF MONEY FOR US, you win "Best Late Night Talk Show" each and every year, we could not be happier. But, Conan is whining, so we need to let you know, in six years, we're going to have to let you go."

Leno took it in stride. Characteristically, he laughed and shrugged it off. It's business, he said. You don't get upset about business. ("Never marry a hooker," is how he put it).

So, NBC, in it's nervous last days, struck a deal with Jay -- knowing he'd fall somewhere, and wherever that WAS, HE WOULD BE DANGEROUS BECAUSE HE IS SOOOOO GOOOOOOD -- for the Prime Time Experiment.

It's not Conan's fault, though he is doing everything he can to paint himself the victim here. He stirred the pot to get what he wanted, never considered what would happen if it failed.



1711 days ago


NBC Management is just bad, bad planning and no vision at all. Jay was # 1 before he was moved to 10 P.M. Who is the stupid or idiot who was not happy with Jay been # 1? Is this guy a CEO? Sound as a janitor to me. Conan, I am sorry to say this but you are not funny at all. Maybe you can try something else. I watched you at least 10 times and I ended asking myself, why this guy think he is funny. I tried to laugh and I just couldn't.

1710 days ago


Yeah, yeah. Coco lost a lot of viewers in the beginning of his takeover. BUT Leno started his career at the Tonight Show with crappy ratings and the first two years of the Late Show with weren't the greatest for Conan either. Seven months is NOT enough time for Conan to build up a steady fan base at the earlier time slot with a COMPLETELY different demographic.

1710 days ago


Hello TMZ;

This is really a stpry about two Boston boys duking it out. Even more, it's about an Emerson alum (Leno) trying to walk all over a Harvard man (Conan). The resultant comedy is deft, giving the pleasure of watching the Stanley Cup play-offs.

Thank you for the buzz.

1709 days ago


NBC decided long time ago to migrate from Leno to Conan, so it is NOT Coman's fault for wanting to keep it as promised. Conan got the shaft.

Leno is not that funny and we can easily do without him.

1709 days ago


tsk tsk tsk, conan too bad you werent as good as leno and carson and even letterman,leno and letterman can hold a audiance, even letterman is funnier than you , hell my cat is funnier than you, that red hair of your show you do have a nasty temper there young fella,too bad you didnt have good people who were on your side, sounds liek they worked for nbc not you,andi think you got screwed again, nbc is going behind your back to fox and telling them to start your pay at 30 mil then they are off the hook in paying you,they will make sue you wont seea dime of that money,i am surprised you are that naive,i have only seen your show once, ihad a heart attack and was laying in the hospital, i was in bad shape and flipped channels and found your show, after 5 minutes iw as ready to pull the plug on myself, you are really not funny

1709 days ago


Greedy Jay may have won the battle, but he will lose the war because me and a lot of other former Jay watchers will not be watching him anymore. I'll never watch his boring show ever again. Conan is funnier, has a better band, and is a better interviewer. Conan's Tonight Show was fun like The Tonight Show used to be with Johnny Carson. Jay is just boring. He has no talent. He can't act or do impersonations. All he does is read jokes off a cue card and the old folks think that's funny. Boring. I'm confident Conan will get another show and will land on his feet. NBC doesn't know what they are doing.

1709 days ago

retro outlaw    

All you guys are saying conan lost a bunch of viewers... so did jay when he took over!!! it takes more than 7 months.... plus jays ass should be at home not on ANY show.. HE Passed the torch like conan or not He was promised the show.

1709 days ago


CONAN! yes he did lose 2 mill in viewers, but you have to give him a chance to get them back! When Jay took over the show in 92' people simply turned off their tvs instead of watching his sorry ass. NBC is a bunch of indian-givers, give the show to conan, who is in touch with a younger audience, then give it back to a lame ass host whos stuck in the 90s'. CLASSY. pure class- P.S. your all douches if you think conan is worse than Leno. suck it.

1709 days ago
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