Around the clock negotiations between representatives for Conan O'Brien and NBC have reportedly reached a departure deal for the Emmy Award winning comic host. Reportedly, NBC will give O'Brien a $30 million severance package. And negotiators for O'Brien also were apparently able to hammer out language allowing him to quickly find work elsewhere. NBC was hoping to keep O'Brien from working for another network for up to 3 years. Yet, how fast some other network may sign O'Brien and other staffers or actors from his show remains a big question.
Since he took over THE TONIGHT SHOW reins from Jay Leno, O'Brien manage to lose 52% of the ratings audience of the show. And with a very high salary well into the tens of millions, O'Brien might just be too expensive of a commodity for many other networks to really seriously consider. Finding work might be a little harder this time around.
However, both Jay Leno and NBC have only suffered a great deal of reputation damage in this whole fiasco, while Conan O'Brien seems to be largely garnering a great deal of public sympathy. Probably, Leno's return to THE TONIGHT SHOW will make him somewhat "damaged goods" and his ratings will be lower than the past. His disastrous 10pm prime-time TV show also hurt him with the critics. Some say the real winner here just might be Jimmy Fallon who has remained undamaged here, and could be the real future of NBC. At some point, Jay Leno will really retire, and Jimmy Fallon could well end taking over THE TONIGHT SHOW.
At one time, it looked like Conan O'Brien had won the lottery by his phenomenal climb at the "Peacock" network. In the early days, Conan O'Brien didn't answer his phone when NBC executives attempted to cancel his late night show he took over from David Letterman. That paid off, because his ratings steadily improved and critical approval and Emmy nominations and awards later came his way. That magic worked for 17 years. But after just seven short months, the wheels started to fall off with bad ratings for his new TONIGHT SHOW gig, as well as a weak NBC supporting schedule, partially caused by the huge failure of Jay Leno's new prime-time show.
Can O'Brien make his magic work elsewhere? Maybe? Maybe not? Only time will tell whether his ride continues. But, there's reportedly a new blog offer out there from Kurt Sutter, creator of THE SONS OF ANARCHY, serious or not, for Conan O'Brien to do a guest appearance on FX's motorcycle gang drama. There's another storyline next season about the IRA and running guns. But can comic Conan O'Brien act like a tough guy IRA type?