Conan O'BrienConan O'Brien salvaged a public relations victory from his messy divorce with 'The Tonight Show' earlier this year by using his charm and wit to connect with audiences. But while the public still loves him, NBC's decision not to let O'Brien take part in Fox's 'Idol Gives Back' charity show has exposed an attitude in the television industry that thinks the former host made out like a bandit in the split.

NBC fired O'Brien and paid him a reported $40 million to walk away from his contract after disappointing ratings seven months into his hosting of 'The Tonight Show.' In return, Big Red agreed not to appear on television until May 1 or accept a new hosting gig until September.

The Hollywood Reporter first reported that NBC refused to waive that provision to allow O'Brien to appear on 'Idol Gives Back,' 'American Idol's' April 21 charity fundraiser. Fox is also the network most widely tipped to be O'Brien's next employer.

But what may come as a surprise to the millions of members of "Team CoCo" -- the grassroots fans who campaigned for Conan to keep his job at 'The Tonight Show' -- is that even TV insiders who don't like NBC feel that if the network paid O'Brien $40 million to stay off the air, Conan should honor the deal.