Conan O’Brien Gets $45-Million in Severance, Free in September

The latest late-night drama is over, as NBC has settled with Conan O’Brien over The Tonight Show. The ousted host will be free to pursue other opportunities after September 1, 2010. According to E!, “His severance deal is said to be worth roughly $45 million, and will include a $33 million payout both for NBC’s breach of his contract and 12 million thanks-for-playing bucks for his most senior staff members.”

I’m happy that Conan’s staff will be getting some money. Having moved from New York to Los Angeles less than a year ago, they were always the real victims in this whole affair. Hopefully O’Brien will share some of his loot with his junior staff too, since it will tough to find work until this Fall. On a side note, I’ve always wanted one of these giant severance packages. Too bad I’ve never had a job that’s important enough to warrant one (*cough* Bernie Stolar *cough*).

Where do you think Conan O’Brien will end up? Fox? Comedy Central?

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Flashback: Jay Leno’s Raves About Conan O’Brien in 2004

This 2004 clip of Jay Leno discussing Conan O’Brien taking over The Tonight Show in 2009 is funny when viewed through the retroscope. My favorite line was when Leno said, “There was a lot of animosity between me and Dave over who was going to get it [The Tonight Show]. And quite frankly…good friendships were permanently damaged. And I don’t want to have to see anyone have to go through that ever again.”

*snicker*

Conan O’Brien Tries to Sell The Tonight Show on Craigslist

Conan just keeps getting better and better while dealing with his crappy situation. Last night the disrespected host of The Tonight Show had his staff post a Craigslist ad selling the show. Here’s a picture of the ad, which was unfortunately flagged and pulled.

I love it! It’s comedy 2.0! Go #teamconan!!!

Conan O’Brien Making the Most of NBC Being Pricks

You have to love Conan O’Brien. Even though he’s getting the shaft from NBC and Jay Leno, he’s using the situation to entertain his fans. After joking that he was preparing for a career as a barista, O’Brien said:

Hosting The Tonight Show has been the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for me and I just want to say to the kids out there watching: You can do anything you want in life. Unless Jay Leno wants to do it too.

It’s funny and biting at the same time — brilliant stuff! Go #teamconan!!!

The Late Shift II: Conan O’Brien Issues Lengthy Statement, Tells NBC to Suck It

Ah, the drama surrounding NBC’s late-night programming — it’s like 1992 all over again! This time around, NBC awarded the outstanding Conan O’Brien with The Tonight Show, but aims to bring Jay Leno back to the 11:35 time slot for a half-hour program. This would move O’Brien’s show to 12:05 and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon even later.

I must admit that I’m biased and greatly prefer O’Brien over Leno, but I don’t see how anyone can think this is anything but a dick move on NBC’s part. It’s disrespectful and discourteous, even more so than the aforementioned Leno/Letterman struggle after Johnny Carson’s retirement (watch the excellent movie The Late Shift for more info). I’m completely behind O’Brien on this one and I hope that he gets everything he wants.

Check out O’Brien’s full statement and let me know which side you’re on (please)!

People of Earth:

In the last few days, I’ve been getting a lot of sympathy calls, and I want to start by making it clear that no one should waste a second feeling sorry for me. For 17 years, I’ve been getting paid to do what I love most and, in a world with real problems, I’ve been absurdly lucky. That said, I’ve been suddenly put in a very public predicament and my bosses are demanding an immediate decision.

Six years ago, I signed a contract with NBC to take over The Tonight Show in June of 2009. Like a lot of us, I grew up watching Johnny Carson every night and the chance to one day sit in that chair has meant everything to me. I worked long and hard to get that opportunity, passed up far more lucrative offers, and since 2004 I have spent literally hundreds of hours thinking of ways to extend the franchise long into the future. It was my mistaken belief that, like my predecessor, I would have the benefit of some time and, just as important, some degree of ratings support from the prime-time schedule. Building a lasting audience at 11:30 is impossible without both.

But sadly, we were never given that chance. After only seven months, with my Tonight Show in its infancy, NBC has decided to react to their terrible difficulties in prime-time by making a change in their long-established late night schedule.

Last Thursday, NBC executives told me they intended to move the Tonight Show to 12:05 to accommodate the Jay Leno Show at 11:35. For 60 years the Tonight Show has aired immediately following the late local news. I sincerely believe that delaying the Tonight Show into the next day to accommodate another comedy program will seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting. The Tonight Show at 12:05 simply isn’t the Tonight Show. Also, if I accept this move I will be knocking the Late Night show, which I inherited from David Letterman and passed on to Jimmy Fallon, out of its long-held time slot. That would hurt the other NBC franchise that I love, and it would be unfair to Jimmy.

So it has come to this: I cannot express in words how much I enjoy hosting this program and what an enormous personal disappointment it is for me to consider losing it. My staff and I have worked unbelievably hard and we are very proud of our contribution to the legacy of The Tonight Show. But I cannot participate in what I honestly believe is its destruction. Some people will make the argument that with DVRs and the Internet a time slot doesn’t matter. But with the Tonight Show, I believe nothing could matter more.

There has been speculation about my going to another network but, to set the record straight, I currently have no other offer and honestly have no idea what happens next. My hope is that NBC and I can resolve this quickly so that my staff, crew, and I can do a show we can be proud of, for a company that values our work.

Have a great day and, for the record, I am truly sorry about my hair; it’s always been that way.

Yours,

Conan

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Simon Cowell Confirms That He’s Leaving American Idol

As I mentioned last month, Simon Cowell’s brother revealed that the smarmiest judge on America Idol will be leaving the show after this season. That news has be confirmed by Simon himself. People has reported:

At the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour in Pasadena, Calif., American Idol judge Simon Cowell announced that he is leaving the show to focus on a new talent search, The X Factor.

The X Factor will launch in 2011,” Cowell told reporters Monday. “Because of that, this will be my last season on American Idol.”

The shows won’t be in direct competition, as American Idol is slated to run in the first half of the year and The X Factor in the second. Cowell also revealed that he’s anxious to work with Paul Abdul, who was recently replaced on AI, once again:

“I adore Paula. Whatever happens, I will be working with her in some capacity. Because I miss her.”

Even though the shows will not be on at the same time, I’m pretty sure I’m dropping Idol for X Factor.

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Simon Cowell Leaving American Idol After Season 9

Simon Cowell announced that he intends to leave American Idol after season nine. This is terrible news for AI. Cowell is — by far — the most entertaining part of the show, especially now that Paula Abdul is gone. VoteForTheWorst has reported:

It’s clear that Simon wants out so he can bring X Factor over to America and not have to worry about Idol, since he’ll be making s*&^loads more money producing X Factor (if it’s successful). Simon always said he’d leave the show if Paula left, so it looks like the producers are helping American Idol implode on itself.

Although I’ll miss Paula’s wacky and nonsensical comments, I’m still looking forward to the new season starting in January. After that…I don’t know. I can’t imagine the show without Simon. The best thing about Randy Jackson is that he played with Journey. Kara DioGuardi is pretty useless. It remains to be seen what Ellen Degeneres will bring to the table. None of that matters though. I’m pretty sure I’m done with Idol if Simon walks.

Source via VFTW