After wreaking havoc on the late night television line-up, NBC might be forced to offer Conan O’Brien a $40 million deal to let him walk away, according to an article in The New York Post.
The deal comes after O’Brien refused to switch “The Tonight Show” to the 12:05 time slot, after “The Jay Leno Show” at 11:35.
The deal would try to put Leno back into “The Tonight Show” and O’Brien would be off until September, giving him the freedom to sign a contract for the next year instead of fulfilling the rest of his two-year contract. The deal also ensures that if O’Brien takes the money, he cannot badmouth NBC for its actions.
The entire $40 million won’t be going to O’Brien alone, either — about $7.5 million will be paid out to employees of the show, who complained about not getting paid once O’Brien leaves.
It’s been a messy situation for NBC the past few weeks with the controversy over the late-night changes. After Leno was moved to the 10 p.m. slot, ratings fell and NBC wanted to push Leno back to 11:35 to get these back, a move that would both O’Brien and Jimmy Fallon.
“WTF?!” exclaimed Anthony Nicoletti ‘10 in response to the late-night time changes, saying that the original move of “The Tonight Show” from 11:35 to 10 p.m. didn’t make sense.
“It’s important to keep [The Tonight Show] at 11:35, that’s what makes it The Tonight Show,” he said.
And what about NBC’s concerns over ratings, that prompted the switch in the first place?
“Everyone is watching it now, just because of the controversy,” said Nicoletti.