If Conan Wins an Emmy, Can He Slam Leno and the Ratings in His Acceptance Speech?

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THR’s legal blog weighs in on what Conan can and can’t say in his acceptance speech should he win an Emmy for his abbreviated stint as host of The Tonight Show.

Conan’s settlement came with strict language about not making any disparaging comments about Jay Leno or top NBC executives.  Those limitations expire September 1, but because NBC, which airs Sunday Night Football, has the Emmy’s this year, the awards were moved to late August.

But apparently there is some wiggle room that will allow him to at least tell the truth:

We’ve learned that Conan’s settlement deal defines disparaging comments as those that are “false” and would be viewed by a reasonable person to be “insulting or defamatory.”

The key word is “false.” O’Brien can poke fun at his former bosses or even take a shot at Leno as long as his remarks are not both inaccurate and scornful.

“He can still have a field day,” says attorney Pierce O’Donnell, who has handled employment settlements in Hollywood cases but was not involved in the O’Brien deal. “He can make fun of NBC’s ratings, its shows, as long as he’s not saying anything false.”

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