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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


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Previous 15 Comments | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6


First: It sounds as if Leno and his wife are very generous, but so is Conan. He's one of the founders and backers of Labels Are For Labels, a charity that helps feed the hungry. He also backs Autism Speaks, a charity founded by Robert (Triumph the Insult Comic Dog) Smigel that helps people with autism.

Second: From the point of view of someone who loves Conan and all of the people who've worked on his shows, Leno comes off here as being somewhat insensitive. But Hollywood is not exactly the capital of sensitivity. And, if I were Leno, and I thought that NBC would go give the Tonight Show to Jon Stewart if I didn't agree to replace Conan, I'd go replace Conan.

On the other hand: I think the people who say "Conan cost his staffers their jobs" are misunderstanding what really went on. According to press reports, the contract that described what NBC would have to pay if it canceled Conan also had a clause that stated that Conan was hosting the Tonight Show, and that the Tonight Show was on NBC about 11:35 p.m. If Conan had let NBC weasel out of the 11:35 p.m. part of the contract, how could he have really enforced the other parts? Maybe NBC would have aired Conan at 12:05 p.m. for a few months, and then canceled him, then somehow used the rescheduling to get out of paying anyone any severance. Also, in my opinion, just the fact that NBC was trying to use the rescheduling tactic to weasel out of paying the cancellation money was a sign that NBC was operating in bad faith, and that Conan had to break up with NBC as quickly as possible.

Also, if Conan had let NBC string him along, he would have missed a chance to start a new show in September 2010. Now, Conan still has a chance of going back on the air in the fall and re-employing most or all of his former staffers.

Finally: NBC's complaint is with Conan, not Conan's staff.The really easy solution to the Conan staff problem would be for NBC to create a weekly variety show starring someone like Will Ferrell or Horatio Sanz, and have some of Conan's staff people work for that show. Even if the show did poorly, it probably would do at least as well as Leno's 10 p.m. show; it would produce cheap, fresh content; it would help some of Conan's staffers continue to collect paychecks; and NBC could use the show to test out sketches that could be turned into full-blown TV series.

1723 days ago


From reports going to Fox is not exactly in the bag. Rupert Murdock appears to be hesitating about it. Conan should have gone to 12:05.

Rupert Murdoch: 'No real negotiations' with Conan O'Brien

What is interesting in the article I quoted in my last post, in 2004 CBS was rumored to be offering him The Late Late Show following Letterman with the promise of succeeding Letterman when he retired. If true, it might have been Conan pushing out Letterman to get his job instead of Leno. How ironic especially with Letterman shooting off his mouth the way he has.

If Fox is a no-go for O'Brien I won't be surprise if Conan starts sniffing around at CBS and the possibility of trying to make Letterman take early retirement since his contract isn't up until 2012. If Fox passes on O'Brien IMO his prospects for an 11:35 show on any broadcast network looks bleak. Leno will be back and Jimmy Fallon is quickly catching on with the younger demo filling the voids left by Conando.

1723 days ago


Why does it say "remembering Conan O'Brien." God TMZ is stupid.

1723 days ago


THIS IS FOR A.L. 2-3-10. I am very pleased for your comments on Conan O'Brien being one of the founders of, Labels Are For Labels and for his involvement with Autism Speaks. Very commendable! I know, personally, how an uncontrolled disease can devastate a family, without warning. My grandson is a victim of Tourette's syndrome which is a neurological disorder. We are extremely grateful he is spared the terrible advanced symptoms of this horrible disease. When one door closed, God opened another for him in that he is quite talented as a sketch artist and is able to record on a poster what his mind dictates. Also, he is fortunate for having two parents who are closely involved in his development as an independent individual. It is not easy for him but he is one determined young man. We, the public, need to be more aware the tremendous good some of our celebrities do for individuals and families through humanitarian sources. So, thank you to Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien for their efforts in helping those less fortunate than they. And, also to A.L. for bringing Conan O'Brien's efforts and involvements to our attention. Kudos!

1723 days ago


I tried the 'contact us' thing at the NBC website. It turns out I went to some third party BS thing for general surveys that wanted my name, gender, age, etc. and I did not spend too much time there. It turns out that there is no real way of telling NBC what I think about them and what happened to Conan via the NBC web site. Pretty weak kneed, NBC. Anyway, I have enjoyed Conan the same way I enjoyed Letterman a long time ago when he was on later than Carson. The later the show, the better the entertainment. However, even though I saw Conan somewhat tamed down obviously because of earlier night time slot dictated by NBC, I saw his show get pretty much back to usual and very entertaining based on his personality and the fun and entertainment he brings to the venue as quite a refreshing earlier night presentation than I will ever see Leno able to do. Conan had better writers and he has a better comic presentation than Leno. I would like to see Conan back as soon as possible and I have no faith that Leno can measure up. Leno is boring, Conan is entertaining. Period. Also, I have seen Letterman go from very funny to quite an a hole to very good as he began after probably getting some good therapy. I see how Letterman now treats guests with respect and I enjoy his show and humor once again. Throw out the big jaw and bring back the tall redhead hair.

1716 days ago
Previous 15 Comments | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

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