Still reeling from Jay Leno’s shocking move back to 11:35, the world awaits a decision today on whether we’ll have to wait an extra half-hour every night, or simply change the channel to another network, to watch Conan O’Brien. At TCA yesterday, NBC chairman Jeff Gaspin said he’d given Jay, Conan, and Jimmy Fallon a week to think about the proposed changes to the network’s late-night lineup. TMZ says Conan is currently considering three options: He could quit late night for the next four years and collect his full paycheck ($20 million per year, allegedly) from a contractually obligated NBC; he could move to a different network where NBC would have to pay any difference in yearly salary; or he could suck it up and move his Tonight Show to 12:05, and probably sign a new contract with NBC to be paid as much as he was before (which would be a lot of money for someone whose show aired at 12:05, but still cheaper than paying him off, says TMZ).
According to today’s Post, no decision has yet been made, but Conan’s currently leaning toward choice No. 2. “This level of shittiness was not expected,” says their source. “[Conan]’s done a great job for NBC. He moved his entire staff, he moved his family to LA. And five months later, they repay him like this? [As it stands now] Conan would be happier somewhere else.” And that somewhere might be Fox — The Wall Street Journal says the network “has had early discussions with Mr. O’Brien’s circle about hosting another late-night show.”
As Conan fans with early bedtimes, we hope he goes to Fox and stays at 11:30 (where, we suppose, he’d probably lose in the ratings every night to Leno). As reasonable people who appreciate the rarity of paid, four-year vacations, though, we might be awfully tempted by choice No. 1.