Therrrre goes Conan.
NBC confirmed to the Associated Press and other news outlets that it had reached a $45 million deal for Conan O'Brien to leave The Tonight Show. The redheaded comic hosted the late-night show for seven months, but was pushed out of his 11:35 p.m. time slot to make way for the return of Jay Leno, whose new low-rated prime time series was cancelled.
The Associated Press reports that O'Brien will personally receive $33 million for the early exit, with the remainder going to his staff as severance pay. As previously noted, O'Brien's final Tonight bow is Friday, Jan. 22.
Leno resumes his Tonight Show perch (he previously hosted for 17 years) on March 1.
"In the end, Conan was appreciative of the steps NBC made to take care of his staff and crew, and decided to supplement the severance they were getting out of his own pocket," his manager, Gavin Polone said. "Now he just wants to get back on the air as quickly as possible."
NBC told the AP that O'Brien is allowed to hit airwaves again by Sept. 2010. Previously based in New York City, O'Brien and his entire staff relocated to Los Angeles for his big Tonight Show debut. Througout the two week controversy, O'Brien and Leno both traded barbs back and forth — and at NBC.
On Tuesday, Rosie O'Donnell told UsMagazine.com that she blamed Leno for the mess. "Conan moved his family across the country and his entire staff to get a shot at what he worked 17 years for only to get it taken away by the bully on the playground who doesn't want to let go."
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