Okay, so in case you haven’t heard the whole story behind the debacle between late night show host Conan O’Brien and Jay Leno, here’s the rundown:
Jay Leno was going to retire from showbiz and therefore stepped down from The Tonight Show, an NBC late night television show that began in 1954 and has previously been hosted by Steve Allen, Jack Paar, and Johnny Carson. So O’Brien stepped in as The Tonight Show host. Leno decided he didn’t want to retire after all, and got a new show, The Jay Leno Show, at the 10:00pm time slot.
After a few months on air, NBC’s affiliates (local broadcaster that carries some of the program line-up of a TV network) complained that Jay’s show brought their local news ratings down. To combat this, NBC moved Jay’s show to 11:35 (after the local news) and The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien to 12:35. This didn’t sit well with Conan. Enter a late night debacle filled with jokes with sting between O’Brien, Leno, and Letterman, and contract arguments between NBC and Conan, and you have this: Conan’s stint will end on January 22, 2010 (Yeah! Today!), and he gets a severance package reportedly worth $45 million, including $12 million for his staff. The contract also says the soon-to-be former The Tonight Show host won’t be able to pursue any similar hosting gigs until September 1st, according to reports.