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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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You guys here at TMZ appear to have become as schizophrenic as NBC management.
There is no other way to explain your shifting story, like NBC, are trying to have it all.
Eat your cake, and have it, too...
CONAN DID RIGHT, notwithstanding NBC's moronic behavior and your codling to allow your various sources to each get to spin their own stories through you.

1710 days ago


Bad agent bad lawyers

1710 days ago


Conan is funny and does a good job, but his humor isn't right for the Tonight Show. It's a little to extreme. Leno's humor is restrained enough, but the guy just isn't very funny. So, NBC really needs to find a THIRD path through this forest, one that doesn't involve either Leno or Conan hosting the Tonight Show.

1710 days ago


31. All you have to do is go back and read Conan's letter to find the real root of problem here. In his dillusional mind, he actually thinks he's in the same category as Johnny Carson.

Posted at 1:48AM on Jan 13th 2010 by moveover

What..and you think Jay is in the same category? Jay is the most boring unfunny joke stealing bastard If ever watched. Jay appeals to the idiot midwest retards that like to laugh at lame ass "safe" humour. You Jay lovers make me sick.

1710 days ago

Bobo Frog    

Conan was right. "I do what I do", is the right attitude instead of taking notes from the suits to appeal to the 60+ audience. Conan just needed time to find his footing....but Leno and NBC screwed him....F them.

1710 days ago


Why is TMZ acting as if Conan is the problem? The problem is Jay Leno basically being an "Indian Giver" with that time slot. Everybody knows he wants his old show back and this whole distasteful process will result in getting back his show. Conan not edging Jimmy Fallon out shows who has the real character in this.

1710 days ago


Once it's midnight it's no longer Tonight!

1710 days ago


You are famous. You are not a lawyer. You get an agent, and a lawyer to protect you. They did not properly protect you(If Jay's lawyers thought of this, Conan's should have thought of this).
Conan calm down. You were just being moved around, not fired. If you want to sue someone , sue your agent and lawyers for not doing their job.
Go back to NBC, and take back your job, and be thankful you have one, and do what you claim is important and make people laugh. Grow up dude.

1710 days ago



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1710 days ago

Coco no gogo    

Here's the bottom line: This deal was in the works for 6 years. Leno knew he was going to hand the show over to Conan. Leno had amazing shows as a lead in, like ER. Conan went to late night with Leno as a lead in. So the older demographic of Leno fans had an option: they could watch Conan OR watch Leno earlier. Do you think Carson would've done this to Leno? Hell no! Leno's ratings sucked. He took viewers with him and away from Conan, while Conan did terrible in the older demo but tied Letterman in the younger demo. Conan never had a chance. They both took viewers away from each other, which is why both shows underperformed. Why wouldn't you just can Leno if his ratings were bad? Because NBC wanted to save a buck. Of COURSE the "higher ups" who "oversee the Tonight Show" are going to blame Conan. They work for NBC, and don't want their reputation to go down the toilet. Conan has a strong case here, and has acted gracefully and gratefully. Leno is NOT going to be well-received when he comes back to The Tonight Show. This is going to go down as the biggest travesty in NBC history. They should be ashamed of themselves.

1710 days ago


Evidently Leno is so talentless that he can only do the same thing he has done for the past 20 years. So he will go back to the same old job with his chin held high. Like a punk. No more Tonight Show Johnny RIP.

1710 days ago


For any idiot out there that thinks the time slot negotiation is the loop hole: Reality Check! There is 60 years of precedence in the fact that the show has always been in the exact same time slot. The 30 minute bump would also put it on a new day since it will be 12:05AM.

Conan, you got this in the bag...

1710 days ago


Conan is extremely funny, but he has a hard time getting his style of humor across because he has to compromise himself to appeal to "the middle." Unfortunately, a compromised Conan is worse than no Conan at all, and even his die-hard fans aren't digging him on the Tonight Show. Late Night started to go down hill as soon as he learned that he got the Tonight Show, and it got worse when it arrived.

As his die-hards will remember, he was amazing during the writer strikes because he got to be himself unscripted. He needs to be in a situation where he can do that again, without the corporate puppeteers trying to control his every move. Fox would be ideal for him because of his close association with the Simpsons, and just the general style of the network being more open to more risque styles of humor.

1710 days ago


@ Jeff (#53): It appears that you measure your level of sophistication by your preference in late night talk show hosts. The day I use Carson Daly's monologues as a yardstick to determine my intellectual standing, I want you to shoot me in the head. Use a Magnum. Take it clean off.

1710 days ago

ex lax    

I thought gay leno retired? I think it all a scam an nbc had this up there sleeve all along

1710 days ago
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