Conan, NBC sign exit deal

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Looks like it’s finally over: NBC Universal has confirmed Conan O’Brien, host of “The Tonight Show,” has signed a deal to exit NBC. That deal was officially announced 1/21. O’Brien will tape his last “Tonight” on Friday (Jan. 22). O’Brien is leaving seven months after taking over the show from Jay Leno, who began hosting a 10 p.m. talker in September.


NBC and O’Brien reportedly agreed to a $45 million deal where Conan receives $33 million for not returning to television for eight months. The rest of the $45 million will go towards the severance package for his “Tonight Show” staff members.

The deal then allows O’Brien to go elsewhere—likely Fox. NBC says it will move Jay Leno back to 11:35 p.m. and delay “The Tonight Show” by 30 minutes. Leno will return to hosting “The Tonight Show” after the Winter Olympics (3/1). “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” will continue to be broadcast from 12:35-1:35 a.m.

The announcement was made by Jeff Gaspin, Chairman, NBC Universal Television Entertainment: “We’re pleased that Jay is returning to host the franchise that he helmed brilliantly and successfully for many years. He is an enormous talent, a consummate professional and one of the hardest-working performers on television.”


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Carl has been with RBR-TVBR since 1997 and is currently Managing Director/Senior Editor. Residing in Northern Virginia, he covers the business of broadcasting, advertising, programming, new media and engineering. He’s also done a great deal of interviews for the company and handles our ever-growing stable of bylined columnists.