Conan O’Brien Signs Exit Deal

By Andrew Gauthier 


Conan O’Brien‘s short tenure as host of the “Tonight Show” is now officially over. NBC announced Thursday morning that the late-night host has signed an agreement that leads the way for Jay Leno to return to “Tonight.”

According to The Wall Street Journal, the final deal includes a payout of $32.5 million to O’Brien and roughly $12 million for his staff.

“We’re pleased that Jay is returning to host the franchise that he helmed brilliantly and successfully for many years,” said Jeff Gaspin, Chairman, NBC Universal Television Entertainment.

Although “The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien” is still listed for next week on NBC’s website, it is widely expected that Friday the 22nd will be O’Brien’s final episode. NBC announced that Leno will take over on March 1.

The agreement stipulates that O’Brien will be free to pursue another show after September, 1. It appears, though, that the characters and sketches at the core of O’Brien’s comedy will not be allowed to leave, as NBC will retain ownership of acts like the Masturbating Bear.

According to The Wrap, O’Brien’s agreement mandates “a short period of time in which he can’t give any media interviews or slam NBC publicly.”