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Conan O'Brien

Bucks Up

for Screwed Crew

2/2/2010 9:16 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF

Conan O'Brien Conan O'Brien is shelling out his own cash to some ex-staffers who didn't get jack from that $7.5 million separation deal from NBC.

According to sources close to production, Conan's stagehands from "The Tonight Show" were not covered by the NBC severance plan. But we're told Conan is stepping up -- promising to pay his nearly 50 person crew at least six weeks severance out of his own pocket.

Conan's people had no comment.

The union for his former crew -- IATSE Local 33 -- says all the members who worked with Conan are "very happy" with the way he handled the whole mess.Conan O'Brien Pictures

89 COMMENTS

No Avatar
46.

Dante    


"Good Job" to the graphic designer!
Finally someone learn to use Photoshop's "De-Interlacing" filter on still video frames.

Finally...

1638 days ago
47.

me    

CLASS ACT.

Jay, this is how it's done (although, 6 weeks isn't enough- should have been 6 months since the relocated for him.)

1638 days ago
48.

MSOLTOW    

Conan had an oblication to give his people money. If it wasn't for the collective failer on all of their parts NBC would not be firing their a--es! Come on now would you keep someone who brought your ratings down just because 1% of your staffers liked him personally.

1638 days ago
49.

AwakeNow    

"...some warped sense of INTEGRITY?" How sad that you do not understand Integrity CANNOT be bought

Team Coco BECAUSE of integrity

1638 days ago
50.

zisee    

I am sick of hearing about Conan. Get on to a new subjet. This one is old.

1638 days ago
51.

tinister    

Good man, Conan.

That one whining poster from CA needs to shut the F up.
You're not the only person hurting in this recession.
Go out and get a job instead of bitching about people not giving you a handout. It's frikkin' UnAmerican to be a whiney-ass like you.

There are people who are unemployed and yet still manage to scrape up to help the people of Haiti because it's the human and right thing to do you sad sack of sh*t.

1638 days ago
52.

sVybDy    


@ pinzol #15
@ Wellington #20
@ Shelly #21
@ Sam #23
@ sloane #33
@ I am Me #37
@ psp1ace #47

And to anyone else who believes that Conan is in any way at fault for this, that he unfairly pushed Jay Leno off the Tonight Show or that he screwed his staff by not going on at 12:00, you need to get your facts straight.

In 2004, Conan had offers from other networks and wanted to either move forward in his career or leave NBC. This is called negotiation, and is a common business tactic. NBC was under no pain to meet Conan's terms, but they did. Yes, Leno had to leave The Tonight Show before he was ready, but that is ultimately NBC's fault, not Conan's. NBC could have let Conan walk in 2004.

Jay Leno is also at fault. He agreed to leave The Tonight Show, and he went on air and lied to everyone about his intentions in 2004. (You cannot defend Leno on this point; he admitted to his lie on television when Oprah Winfrey interviewed him last week.) If Jay had been honest about his intentions in 2004 with NBC and with Conan, much if not all of this could have been avoided.

Fast forward to 2010. Due to the failure of The Jay Leno Show and NBC's desire to not pay Leno a $150 million buyout, they had to renegotiate with him, ultimately pushing Conan's Tonight Show back to 12:00. Could Conan have accepted this demotion for the sake of his staff? Yes, he could have, but he didn't.

And here's why that was the right decision. What a lot of you have forgotten is that there are more people who would have been affected by this decision than Conan's staff. What about Jimmy Fallon's staff? What about Carson Daly's staff? If Conan had accepted the move, those shows would have been on at 1:00 and 2:00, respectively, causing those shows to lose viewers and lose advertising revenue. Budget cuts would have been inevitable, and with these shows having bare-bones production values already, those cuts would have meant people losing jobs. Period. NBC put Conan in a position where no matter what decision he made, he would be putting people besides himself out of work.

So Conan made the smartest decision possible. He fell on his sword and took the high road out of NBC, and now he is paying his screwed staffers out of his own pocket. And from the wording of the article, it looks like he isn't just going to cut them off after six weeks automatically. Those who can't find jobs (if any) may get extended pay from Conan (we'll have to wait and see on that.) And they can probably find jobs more easily than others in their field right now, since for the PR alone, it would be valuable to hire any number of "screwed" ex-Conan employees.

But let's pretend for a moment, that these workers are truly screwed. Let's pretend they'll have no way to find work, and that Conan will savagely toss them out in the cold to starve when their six weeks are up. Is that really Conan's fault, or is it NBC's fault for forcing Conan to agree to a non-compete clause that will keep him off the air until September 1? Do you think Conan wouldn't prefer to be on the air on a competing network right now, if he could? Ultimately, any screwing of Conan's staff falls to NBC, because THEY are the ones keeping Conan from working, which keeps Conan's staff from working.

Nevertheless, when Conan returns in September, anyone who had a job with him before is certain to have one in September, which is a far better guarantee than most people get in this crummy economy, so they even have that going for them. To be fair, one can also argue that wherever Conan goes, he will be displacing someone or something else, but he's only one man and there's only so much he can do.

And he's doing right by as many people as he possibly can, so cut him some slack already. This is nothing more than a classy maneuver by a classy man.

NBC and Jay Leno could have and should have learned something from him while he was still playing on their team.

1638 days ago
53.

Wellington    

It's funny to see the tortured logic used here to defend Conan which means that the truth doesn't serve him well. As it has been pointed out many times before that he wanted another man's job and didn't care what his bosses did to that man to make it happen. That's dirty pool whether you work for the Tonight Show or Key Bank. It has been Conan who has had the attitude toward Jay that this network isn't big enough for both of us. NBC was wrong in appeasing O'Brien's demand in 2004. If they promised him the Tonight Show at all, it should have been contingent in Jay's ratings and his willingness to retire. If that wasn't good enough for O'Brien, then NBC should have let him walk in 2004. NBC was wrong to do what they did to Jay.

I came across this article written in 2004. Even then some recognized there was something fishy going on:

Late night shift: Conan O'Brien to replace Leno in '09 / But why him? And why announce change so early?
September 28, 2004|By Tim Goodman

Somewhere Carnac the Magnificent is stumped. Conan O'Brien -- "Tonight Show" host?

NBC's announcement on Monday that "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno will retire in five years and be replaced by "Late Night" host O'Brien says more about the latter than the former but almost nothing about the logic behind the move.

When you make public a personnel decision that doesn't take place until 2009 chances are there's something more going on behind the scenes. And there's certainly been intense industry speculation that CBS which just lost Craig Kilborn host of "The Late Late Show" would make a play for O'Brien with the promise that he would succeed David Letterman.

By stepping in and signing O'Brien who had less than a year left on his contract NBC has silenced those rumors and set up an orderly transition but the decision is sure to get heads scratching in Hollywood.

First: O'Brien? Really? Secondly is Leno going willingly? None of this seems logical..."

http://articles.sfgate.com/2004-09-28/news/17444362_1_letterman-s-humor-conan-o-brien-nbc-s-announcement

I also agree with those who are saying that O'Brien's camp is announcing Conan's out of pocket severance pay to former employees as a PR move. Unlike O'Brien, Leno was willing to shoulder the disrespect NBC has dealt him to keep his staff employed.

1638 days ago
54.

tinister    

The poster who is did the calculation of the severance and says it's not enough compared to Conan's take: you're assuming that Conan gave them the $500 a week that you estimated. According to the reports - the stagehands are happy with the severance; so I think Conan gave them more than the standard rate.

You're also forgetting that these are the union staff members that weren't included in the staff group that benefited from the extra millions that Conan negotiated on top of his own take.

1638 days ago
55.

skylark211    

PLEASE HURRY BACK CONAN...WE LOVE U!

1638 days ago
56.

QE2    

I don't understand the people at NBC. According to Leno, he was forced out by NBC brass to keep Conan at NBC. That's wierd right there. No one with a brain forces out a top performer to keep a lesser performer--you find another way to keep that person happy if you value them. Should the Lakers get rid of Kobe to keep Lamar Odom happy? Uh...no.

As for ratings, I don't think that anyone could have had good ratings with the Jay Leno show at 10 on beforehand. People weren't even watching NBC news--were they really likely to change back to Conan at 11:35? Uh...no. I don't think the talent was the problem. They changed a format that has worked for 60 years. Wierd.

Then, NBC gives Leno his old job back and cuts Conan loose because they are afraid of Leno going to another newtork. NBC wouldn't have to worry so much about talent going to other networks if any of those clowns could manage their way out of a paper bag. If I were on their board of directors there would be serious consequences to all this nonsence. A few key people would be "asked to retire".

1638 days ago
57.

whybedumb    

Be glad this jerk is gone. This is another publicity stunt by his PR people!

http://whybedumb.com/index.php/2010/01/take-a-hike-conan-we-dont-need-you

1638 days ago
58.

GMan    

WWJD? What Would Jay Do?

Nothing 'cept polish his cars to the piggy bank
----------------

Uh, Jay paid his staff during the writers strike out of his own pocket. I don't know if Conan did that. If he did, I didn't hear about it.

I equate people who side with Conan like teachers and union employees here in California--entitled brats. He didn't do the job. NBC comes to him and says, you can keep your job, just move a half hour, and Conan whines and says that it's unacceptable in the press, before he tells NBC. You people think that Conan cares about his staffers because he gave them six weeks severance out of his 30 million payout? Please. If he really cared about all of his staff that he moved halfway across the country, he would have taken the job.
Conan would still be on the air, and his staff would have jobs if he did that. But he didn't because he's a big baby.

Jay is NOT the villain, and if you people had actually watched Conan, he'd still be on the air.

1638 days ago
59.

justsouknow    

@housebuyguy, just to let you know, Conan AND Letterman both also paid their staff during the writers strike. Check your facts bud.And for your information we DO watch Conan, but we are a younger generation that because of our schedules resorts to watching it online at websites like hulu.com to do so. I started watching Conan when I was a busy college student...what makes you think I would have a Nielsen's rating box in my dormitory? As mentioned earlier, it would have been ridiculous if the Tonight Show was the NEXT day, but obvious only a few people understand this.

1638 days ago
60.

Really?    

Why are people complaining Conan only paid them 6 weeks severance? What world are you people living in? I was laid off and recieved 2 weeks severance and was lucky to get that. My boss certainly didn't pay any of us anything out of pocket. It was very generous of Conan to pay them 6 weeks, especially out of pocket.
They will also be entitled to unemployment, hardly like they are left high and dry.

1638 days ago
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