Explosive: Conan’s Contract Did Specify Tonight’s Time Slot, Sort of


Not that it makes any difference now, but it turns out Conan's contract with NBC did kind of contain language specifying that the Tonight Show was to begin every night at 11:35 p.m., contrary to what was previously reported (and what Jeff Zucker said in interviews). The Hollywood Reporter's Matthew Belloni has seen it and says the agreement between O'Brien and the network contained a 2002 amendment making clear the Tonight Show's time slot and a line referring to his old show, Late Night, as the "second network series after the end of primetime."

NBC were apparently arguing, though, that a 2004 amendment to the deal, which officially promised Tonight to Conan, said nothing about a time slot (to which Conan's lawyers likely countered that, despite amendments to other things, the original contract's language on the time-slot point was still valid, plus Tonight had aired at the same time for 60 years, establishing precedent).

While this Vulture editor is not (technically) a lawyer, it seems to us Conan had a pretty strong breach-of-contract case and that, in addition to his $37.5 million payout, he probably could have taken the Masturbating Bear with him if he'd tried a little harder.

Conan's 'Tonight Show' contract revealed [Esq/HR]