Updated: Separately, NBC has already announced Leno moving back to The Tonight Show beginning March 1, but here's the joint Conan/NBC Statement:
STATEMENT FROM NBC AND CONAN O'BRIEN:
NBC and Conan O'Brien have reached a resolution of the issues surrounding O'Brien's contract to host "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien."
Under terms of an agreement that was signed earlier today, NBC and O'Brien will settle their contractual obligations and the network will release O'Brien from his contract, freeing him to pursue other opportunities after September 1, 2010.
O'Brien will make his final appearance as host of "The Tonight Show" on January 22.
Conan O'Brien's manager confirmed early Thursday morning that Conan had signed the agreement separating from NBC and giving up The Tonight Show, according to a report from The Wrap's Josef Adalian.
As of this writing, NBC is declining to comment. As of ~7am ET, NBC confirms the deal has been signed and says it will issue a press release later this morning.
There's not much new to report other than it's official. Most of the rest has been previously reported in some fashion:
- the deal is in the $30 million to $40 million range. The Wall Street Journal reports Mr. O'Brien will receive an amount of around $32 million, with an additional $12 million going to his staff for a total of ~$44 million
- O'Brien's last show will be this Friday, January 22
- Jay Leno will take over The Tonight Show on March 1
- O'Brien will be able to to begin working for another network beginning September 1
- NBC retains the rights to bits and characters Conan created
The deal got held up as Conan tried to negotiate better severance - and apparently particularly the non-union workers without long term contracts got "much better" deals than NBC typically pays
Conan will supplement the severances out of his own pocket.
Others under contract, including Andy Richter and Max Weinberg with contracts will negotiate their own deals.
O'Brien also agreed to a short window (duration unknown) where he can't give any media interviews or speak ill of NBC publicly. NBC also will be silent on the topic during that period. Conan can mock NBC in his next gig but NBC can sue him for defamation if it chooses.
Adalian's article notes that although NBC retains the rights to the characters and bits Conan created at NBC, there could be some wiggle room in some cases, noting that Letterman found a way to keep the top 10 lists when he left NBC and moved to CBS.
Howard "Nostradamus" Stern foretold of these events back in 2006, and credit to our friend James Hibberd for holding back on a a big TOLDJA! He -- or at least his inside anonymous source at NBC that he quoted back in December 2008 - got it exactly right!