Conan O'Brien is ready to say good night to late night television with NBC. The New York Times reports that Conan's renegotiation of his two and a half year contract has ended with a buyout by NBC. Under the contract buyout, the two parties have agreed that NBC will pay him $32 million dollars and allow him to return to television after 8 months. The buyout also included a non-disparagement clause for both parties. I guess that NBC did not take too kindly to Mr. O'Brien's barrage of insults over the whole situation.
The NY Post reports that Mr. O'Brien's loyal staff will likely receive severance packages that will total $7.5 million dollars.
US Weekly reports that Mr. O'Brien has been skirting around the issue of badmouthing his current network. In his monologue he noted that he is legally prohibited from saying bad things about NBC, but that "[n]obody said anything about speaking Spanish." Conan then goes on to say "NBC is run by brainless sons of goats who eat money and crap trouble," in Spanish. I am sure that the non-disparagement clause is to ensure that NBC is not the butt of his jokes for a while. The 8 month period that Conan must wait before he returns to television may just be a way for NBC to ensure that Conan does not capitalize on this particular news story.
NBC has recently announced that comedian Jay Leno will return as a the host of "The Tonight Show" shortly after it made the deal with Conan O'Brien.
While it is a lot of money for NBC to give Conan O'Brien, some speculate that it is certainly less than they would have had to pay if they axed Jay Leno. The NY Post speculates that Leno has an ironclad, "brilliantly written" agreement that guarantees his production company a whopping $150 million if NBC Universal got rid of his show. Let's see if NBC can bank on Leno to keep "The Tonight Show" alive. In the meantime, expect Letterman to keep writing amazing jokes about this whole debacle and being relieved the gossip columns have forgotten about his own indiscretions.