Remember yesterday, when you first read Conan’s awesome fuck-you letter to NBC, how crazy it seemed that a person still presumably mired in angry negotiations would make such a pointed public statement? It also seemed crazy to his representatives, who Nikki Finke says begged him not to release it (“They were not thrilled,” says Finke’s source) because they, totally reasonably, worried it could undermine his plan to split for Fox with a bunch of NBC’s money. But Conan could not be reasoned with! One of his reps tells the Times, he “sat up all night drafting the statement.” When he read it to his staff yesterday, reports Finke, “he broke up. He began to cry.”
A big unanswered question, which Letterman brought up last night, is just how long the terms of Conan’s forthcoming settlement will keep him from having a new late-night show on another network. The Times says he could be off television “for a year or more.” We’ll totally wait for him, obviously. We just hope his agreement doesn’t forbid his releasing hilarious public statements mocking his former employer.
Anyway, Conan will reportedly leave NBC (for Fox, everyone assumes) just as soon as a financial settlement is reached, says the Times. NBC apparently still believes it did not violate Conan’s Tonight Show contract by moving Jay back to 11:30 because O’Brien was never specifically guaranteed that time slot in writing. (Conan’s team argues that no such language was necessary, given that the Tonight Show has aired in its current time slot for 60 years.) Also, the network knocked down yesterday’s rumors that they were seeking guest hosts for the Tonight Show, as doing so would imply that they’d fired him and presumably necessitate a bigger payout.