NBC has reached a $45 million agreement with Conan O’Brien to end his short run as host of “The Tonight Show” so that Jay Leno can return as the face of the late-night comedy show.
Of the total amount, about $33 million will go to O’Brien and $12 million will go to his staff.
Under the deal, he will be allowed to return to television in September. ABC has said they are not interested in Conan while Fox may be a possibility depending on whether local affiliates would clear such a deal.
O’Brien’s last episode of “The Tonight Show” will be on Friday. “The Tonight Show” will then run repeats until February 11th, when it’s pre-empted for the Winter Olympics. Leno will return to the program on Monday, March 1st.
Here is the official statement by 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.
And the official press release about Leno’s return to “The Tonight Show”:
NBC confirmed today that popular late-night host Jay Leno will return to host “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” from 11:35 p.m.-12:35 a.m. (ET) beginning March 1, 2010 and that “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” will continue to be broadcast from 12:35-1:35 a.m. (ET). The announcements were made by Jeff Gaspin, Chairman, NBC Universal Television Entertainment.
“We’re pleased that Jay is returning to host the franchise that he helmed brilliantly and successfully for many years,” said Gaspin. “He is an enormous talent, a consummate professional and one of the hardest-working performers on television.”
Leno previously hosted “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” from May 1992-May 2009. The program will continue to showcase many of the features that made Leno America’s late-night leader for more than a dozen years.
“The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” is from Big Dog Productions in association with Universal Media Studios. Debbie Vickers is the executive producer.
“Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” made its broadcast debut on March 2, 2009 with “Saturday Night Live” alum Fallon as the host of the comedy-talk show. The program serves as a platform for comedy, music and A-list talent out of NBC’s Rockefeller Center Studio 6B. Fallon is joined by his house band — the critically acclaimed, Grammy-winning hip-hop band The Roots. Earlier, Fallon launched his “Late Night” video blog (or “vlog”), giving viewers behind-the-scenes access to his preparation for the show’s official launch at www.latenightwithjimmyfallon.com.
Fallon joined the cast of “Saturday Night Live” in 1998 and quickly became an audience favorite for his impressions of actors and musicians as well as for creating many memorable recurring characters. In 2000, he became co-anchor of the segment “Weekend Update” alongside Tina Fey. Fallon also appeared in the Emmy Award-winning miniseries “Band of Brothers,” and his feature films include “Almost Famous,” “Taxi” and “Fever Pitch.”
Lorne Michaels, Emmy Award-winning creator of “Saturday Night Live,” is “Late Night’s” executive producer. Michael Shoemaker, also an Emmy Award winner, is the producer, bringing over 20 years of experience at “Saturday Night Live.” Gavin Purcell, from G4’s critically praised “Attack of the Show,” serves as co-producer. “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” is a production of Universal Media Studios in association with Broadway Video Entertainment.