Our TV Shows

Got a Tip?

Call TMZ at (888) 847-9869 or Click Here

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."


No Avatar

He Hate Me    

for those of you whose brain doesnt handle logic very well....Conan has in fact lost 50% of Jay's audience since taking over Tonight. but where do you think those people went?? they werent abducted by aliens...they went to 10pm with Jay. he took them with him...more evidence to support this: Conan is trending up, way up in the key 18-49 demo that advertisers care most about...he tied Letterman in that demo. Jay always trailed Dave in that key demo. the older folks followed Jay to cant come as a huge surprise to NBC or anyone else that if given Jay an hour and a half earlier, many of his fans are going to move with him and stop watching Tonight. the same thing wouldve happened if Johnny had "unretired" and moved to 10p...he would have crushed Jay....

1743 days ago

KIDS AT RISK karen lee    

DIFFERENCE between Johnny Carson & Leno: CLASS; Leno has NONE! JOHNNY knew WHEN to bow out. LENO never deserved to replace Johnny. Then, NBC screwed MILLIONS of loyal 10pm viewers for Jay’s EGO. JAY was OVER years ago. NBC didn’t have FAITH in its programs to let Jay go. Jay over viewers? Bad choice. NOW, pandering to JAY again, NBC throws Conan under the bus.. Sacrificing VIEWERS (again) for stupid JAY. IS JAY LENO JOHNNY CARSON? Not in a MILLION years! But, stupid NBC TREATS JAY “AS IF” he were Carson himself. STUPID NBC deserves to lose EVERY VIEWER & all smart advertisers.
Conan's agents are the BIGGEST, toughest there are. THEIR reps are on the line here -NOT CONAN'S. If THEY were STUPID - everyone is watching (esp. Conan). The blame should fall on WME for screwing up IN NOT guaranteeing the time slot. Conan is right, "the WORLD is watching" Endeavor.

1743 days ago


Few people will even remember Conan's name in a few years. No other Network would be stupid enough to hire him after he was beat in the ratings by everything else on TV at the 11:30 time slot. Stick a fork in it, Conan.

1743 days ago


Bottom Line: Conan lost 55% of the Tonight Show audience from a year ago. You can't blame Leno for that. Leno's unwatchable, but Conan was never a good fit. Conan should just retire. Why would Fox want to put him up against Leno and Letterman when he couldn't match the ratings of either in a 11:35 slot? Nightline beat both Conan and Letterman in the ratings this week, which shows you just how bad Conan's show is.

1743 days ago


@he hate me There is no F'ing way Conan could have forced Leno off the air with a stupid Leno Cause. Two people can not decide the fate of a third like that anywhere in the country. Non Competes only can go so far and most of the time they are very easy to break.

Leno has been in stand up and on tv for years before Tonight Show and they would be hard pressed to win a case taking a mans ability to earn money the way he has been before. At most they could have done is block him from airing on any Basic cable from 11:30 to 12:30 and thats still pushing it.

Most non competes will only be enforced is the party leaves there contracted job early. So if Leno signed for 3 years and told NBC to f off in a year after that they may have a small case.

Conan screwed himself with his huge ego and should have waited till Leno retired before taking over. He could still have in his contract that he is to replace Leno in case of Retirement,health,or termination. No he had to put a date on it and people didn't like it. They would had accepted it before like when Carson left but not like this.

1743 days ago

Ivette Nieves    


1743 days ago


conan has his attorneys to blame

the f'ed up big time

1743 days ago


I hope Leno's next job is to make love to a steel spike

1743 days ago


I really hope Conan O'Brien doesn't try to start any legal drama here. The one who was originally screwed was Jay Leno when NBC forced him to hand over The Tonight Show to Conan. I really hope Jay Leno is back as the host of The Tonight Show by the end of the Winter Olympics.

Please visit this website in support of Jay Leno being placed back on The Tonight Show:

Please also sign the petition for the same cause:

1743 days ago

He Hate Me    

John- you make some really good points. i think i didnt make myself clear when i brought up a "Leno Non Compete" clause. i meant it in the sense that NBC and Leno clearly wanted to keep working together. in other words, when Leno retired (voluntarily) from Tonight, he would remain a paid, NBC employee for a period of 1-3 years while he and NBC developed his new project/show. this wouldve taken Leno off the table for another network, given him some well earned r&r which he must have needed since HE brought up retirement and most important it would have given Conan some time to build his own audience the way Jay was able to do when Johnny actually retired.

and i completely agree with your other points, two parties cant enter into an agreement to prevent another party from making a living. interesting discussion though.

1743 days ago


It should be implied...

Why doesn't NBC swap the late news and jayleno?

1743 days ago


Screw Leno, he retired from the tonight show, and his suck ass ratings have hindered the network. Why should Conan have to move his timeslot. If nbc is gonna be leno and fallon, I won't watch that garbage.

1743 days ago


****CONSPIRACY TIME**** Anyone else think this whole thing is planned by NBC and Leno for him to bow out gracefully? They knew Conan wouldn't go for the deal, Jay Leno will retire with a positive spin, and now everyone is energized for Conan again. Hmm... Sort've like New Coke? Take it away (or in this case threaten it) while it is losing, and then the people get excited about it again. Certainly got the PR and buzz going for CoCo again. Curious to know if anyone else has considered this? I simply do *NOT* see Leno coming back to The Tonight Show. He may be pig-headed, but he's not stupid. He KNOWS if he comes back it will tarnish his image... Personally, I think CoCo stays and Leno retires. I don't think CoCo knows (he can't for this whole thing to seem genuine), but we'll see how it plays out.

1743 days ago


I think this is what NBC wanted all along, for Conan just to quit and it seems they got what they wanted so Jay can swoop right in and take back the spot.

Daniel .......... Toronto

1743 days ago


TEAM CONAN!!!!!!!!!!

1743 days ago
Previous 15 Comments | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | Most Recent | Next 15 Comments

Around The Web