01-17-2010, 09:13 PM
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Conan O'Brien leaving NBC

Conan O’Brien’s “Tonight Show” dream is over.
After only seven months hosting NBC’s iconic late-night show, O'Brien is leaving NBC.
The teams of representatives for NBC and O’Brien on Friday night were still finalizing a financial settlement that would end the network and the late-night host’s 21-year relationship.
Details about a settlement are still fuzzy, but sources estimated that the payoff to O’Brien could reach $40 million.
The deal looks on track to close over the weekend.

One of the sticking issues has been on whether O’Brien’s contract guarantees him the 11:35 p.m. time slot, with sources close to the host insisting that it does, and sources at the network being adamant that it doesn’t. Once source portrayed the issue as being a matter of NBC's intent rather than the contract spelling out the exact time: Did promising O'Brien "The Tonight Show" inherently indicate an 11:35 p.m. slot?
Either way, a quick settlement prevents NBC from having to go to court over "The Tonight Show," a unacceptable option to the network which could have publicly dragged out its struggle with O'Brien for months or even years.
After a week of tense negotiations, exacerbated by O’Brien’s Tuesday open letter defying NBC’s plan to move his ”Tonight Show” to 12:05 a.m. to make room for a Jay Leno-hosted half-hour show at 11:35 p.m. as well as by NBC’s sports chief Dick Ebersol’s harsh words for O’Brien, the two sides moved closer to an agreement at the end of the week.
Key people in the negotiations have included NBC Uni Entertainment chairman Jeff Gaspin and NBC Entertainment chairman Marc Graboff, O’Brien’s longtime reps, WME’s Rick Rosen and manager Gavin Polone as well as Universal Studios' president Ron Meyer, who was brought in earlier this week to break the impasse.
The news is the latest twist in a dramatic series of events that led to an overhaul of a major chunk of NBC’s schedule in the middle of the broadcast season following an outcry by the network’s affiliate stations whose late newscasts were hit hard by the anemic ratings for “The Jay Leno Show” at 10 p.m.
O'Brien is expected to continue hosting "Tonight" through the end of next week, when the show was previously scheduled to go dark for a week.
On the Friday “Tonight,” O’Brien treated his imminent departure as a fait accompli, spending the opening half-hour taking jabs at NBC ("In the press this week, NBC has been calling me every name in the book. In fact, they think I'm such an idiot they now want me to run the network"), auctioning off “Tonight” memorabilia as well as the show itself, as well as running a “Best of” retrospective of his short run on the show.
In light of O’Brien’s departure, Jay Leno, who will wrap the primetime “Leno Show” Feb.12, would resume command of "Tonight Show," the late-night post he previously held for 17 years, March 1.
That’s when NBC also will roll out its revised midseason schedule that features scripted dramas, reality and newsmagazines 10 p.m.
With his exit almost finalized, the big question is where O'Brien will land, and when will his presumed next show launch. Fox, which has expressed interest in launching a weeknight late-night franchise fronted by O’Brien, is the most obvious option.
However, the network’s toppers have made it clear they are not in any rush to jump in as a decision to do so would involve a financial hit to the affiliates, the same problem that ultimately led to the late-night turmoil at NBC.
Shedding O’Brien and putting Leno back in charge of “Tonight” will give NBC the opportunity to get its schedule back on track, but at a very high cost. The network’s pilot development last year was derailed with the vanishing of its 10 p.m. dramas.
The network also spent millions on new sets and the launch of both “Tonight” and “Jay Leno” and then had to face ratings down spiral both at 10 p.m. and 11:35 p.m., which led to revenue loss.
(Leno is expected, at least for the time being,” to stay put in the studio that housed his primetime show.)
Additionally, the NBC and “Tonight Show” brands have arguably been tarnished, with the network having been painted as clumsy at best and villainous at worst in its handling of the issue
Also taking a hit is the reputation of Leno, who has been roundly criticized for his relatively passive role in the shakeup.
Also there is, of course, NBC’s loss of O’Brien -- a star at the network whose passionate fans are planning a support rally outside NBC Universal studios on Monday -- with an excellent chance of him becoming a competitor to boot.
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  01-18-2010, 12:26 AM
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i don't really have a horse in this race, but NBC dropped the ball big time on this one, which is not a surprise as they are infamous for scheduling mistakes. Putting Leno on at 10:00, five times a week was them basically saying they gave up trying. And why did on Earth did they give the hugely untalented Jimmy Fallon a show as opposed to upgrading Carson Daly's slot? Jimmy Fallon thinks he is funny, but laughing at all of your lines and trying to be cute is not funny. NBC made mistakes and now they're paying for them. To the tune of at least 40 million.
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  01-18-2010, 12:14 PM
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I don't know, at first I kind of felt that Conan was being given short shrift, and I do appreciate his concerns for his staff. But I kind of feel that the wrangling over the time slot, a shift of only 30 minutes, was really overwrought.

I've been watching all three - plus Carson Daly - more lately because I've been capturing interviews to make extras on my sets. I have to say that for certain guests, I was pleasantly surprised by Conan and Jimmy, as well as Carson. Jay seems to stick with his schtick a little more than I like, but he still has the funniest monologues of the rest of the NBC hosts.

For the funniest openings, Craig Ferguson wins hands-down. Those porno puppets of his make me laugh every time. I just wish his show had more guests I want to see.

Eh, I'm sticking with Kimmel for late night. I just wish that Bonnie Hunt had had a better roll-out, because I enjoy her show best of all, and it's tanking in the ratings, and will end with this current season.
Update 7Feb12 - Still not really trading, except for a few selected sets for friends. Check out my fannish activities through my home page at http://www.debwalsh.com/. Thanks for your understanding! E-mail only - no PMs, please.
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  01-19-2010, 11:01 AM
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Putting Jay Leno on at any time is a bad move. And putting Jimmy Fallon on TV for any length of time longer than a Weekend Update report is a bad move as well.

All I can say about the situation is that Leno was never worthy of Johnny Carson's shoes.
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  01-19-2010, 12:22 PM
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As Leno said on his show, it's all about ratings, but I do feel that Conan was not given enough of a chance to find his audience. When Leno took over The Tonight Show he had a distinct advantage because he was already Johnny's permanent guest host, so audiences were used to him in that role. Conan should have been given more time.

It's incomprehensible to me why NBC gave Leno his own show at 10pm. They ask him to leave The Tonight Show only to give him a show that's virtually identical to The Tonight Show, and before Conan's Tonight Show. Perhaps the ratings for both shows weren't good because people didn't want to see 2 Tonight Show's every night, or were divided as to which to watch.

I think putting Leno on at 10 was a slap in the face to Conan.

My 2 cents....
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