Big Money at Stake If Conan O'Brien, NBC Divorce
By Marc Schneider Posted Jan 13th 2010 11:20AM
NBC said Tuesday that the proposed shuffling would not be a breach of O'Brien's contract, because: A) They promised to keep him on as the show's host regardless of ratings, and B) His deal does not include language that guarantees an 11:35 p.m. start. To that, O'Brien says contract shmontract. "The 'Tonight Show' at 12:05 simply isn't the 'Tonight Show,'" he wrote in his manifesto.
O'Brien makes between $10 million to $20 million a year and is owed about two and a half years on his contract. He is reportedly working with NBC execs to hammer out a financial settlement and clear exit strategy. If things get bumpy, the host could stand to lose a huge chunk of money in the divorce.
TMZ reports that O'Brien never sought such a time-slot clause, while Leno did for his now-canceled 10 p.m. show.
According to the NY Times, the network is getting increasingly impatient with O'Brien over his one-man PR campaign -- which includes the scathing letter and nightly monologues -- to cast blame on the network for the wrecked situation.
O'Brien "sat up all night drafting the statement" that he released Tuesday, a rep said. He reportedly teared up when he read to statement to his staff.
"He broke up. He began to cry," and insider tells Deadline.com. "Because for 17 years he was working towards 'The Tonight Show,' and now he says he's prepared to walk away from it. That's an amazing thing. But he takes very seriously the fact that 'The Tonight Show' baton was passed to him."
There were no tears Tuesday night though when he started his monologue: "My name is Conan O'Brien, and I may soon be available for children's parties," he said.
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