While not yet officially announced, word on the street (or at least in the back alleys of TV-land) is that NBC will put Jay Leno back in the driver's seat of the Tonight Show and partially pay-off Conan O'Brien's remaining 3+ years of contract and might even allow him to pursue a new show on a competing network as soon as fall of this year.
The NBC Leno -vs- Conan late night talk show show-down may have been settled.
Since taking over the Tonight Show from Leno in May of 2009 Conan had struggled to maintain the lofty ratings the show was accustomed to with Leno hosting, much less when Leno's mentor Johnny Carson established the Tonight Show as the premier late-night talk show. Meanwhile, Leno was also having troubles getting an audience for his new 10:00PM prime-time show.
NBC exec's had proposed moving Leno to a half-hour slot at 11:35 and pushing back Conan and the Tonight Show to just after midnight. But O'Brien balked at the idea claiming that NBC should give him more time to bring up the ratings. Rumors had surfaced that NBC CEO Jeff Zucker might just take O'Brien off the air and hold him to the current contract and not pay Conan any of the remaining money if him tried to move to another network. There have possibly been talks between Conan and the FOX network to launch a new late night show.
If this settlement comes through Conan could be off the air on the Tonight Show as soon as the end of this week. This purposed end to the late-night dispute would allow O'Brien and FOX to pursue a new show that could debut in September.
It is also rumored that O’Brien placed his TV studio set on Craigslist for sale.
TITLE: 4 SALE: Barely-Used Late Night Show - Make Me An Offer
DESCRIPTION: This is a chance of a lifetime to own your very own late night talk show–guaranteed to last for up to seven months!! Really must see to appreciate.
Information for potential buyers:
- Measures 100’ x 100’ x 32’ – plenty of room for a futon!
- Designed for 11:35 PM but can be easily moved to another time slot
- Band can be sold separately
- Buyer must honor Barry Manilow booking next Thursday!
MAKE ME YOUR BEST OFFER!!!!! (Also willing to trade for Coldplay tickets.)