Conan O'Brien Reaches Deal To Leave 'The Tonight Show' : The Two-Way Conan O'Brien strikes deal to leave The Tonight Show.
NPR logo Conan O'Brien Reaches Deal To Leave 'The Tonight Show'

Conan O'Brien Reaches Deal To Leave 'The Tonight Show'

"Conan O'Brien has signed a deal with NBC to exit The Tonight Show, making way for rival Jay Leno to reclaim the time slot," MSNBC just reported.

It should know, of course, because MSNBC is a joint venture of NBC Universal and Microsoft. The report says NBC has confirmed the much-anticipated news.

As the Associated Press wrote earlier this morning:

Conan O'Brien all but posted a farewell banner on this week's Tonight shows as his exit negotiations with NBC neared their conclusion Wednesday.

In the late-night tradition of a star-studded goodbye, O'Brien's guests Thursday include such big names as Robin Williams and Barry Manilow. Tom Hanks was scheduled for Friday, as was Will Ferrell -- the first guest O'Brien welcomed when he started last June as Tonight host.

And Conan himself all-but announced the news last night. "Let's face facts, we probably don't have much time left here on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien," he said. (Sorry, there's a bit-with-a-bear that's a bit to "adult" for us to be able to post his video. He's posted it here.)

Our blogging buddy Linda Holmes at Monkey See has been following the Leno-O'Brien-NBC turmoil.

Update at 8 a.m. ET: MSNBC now says the package O'Brien has negotiated totals $45 million -- $33 million for him and $12 million for his staff (earlier, AP put the value at $44 million).

Update at 7:20 a.m. ET. The Associated Press writes that:

NBC says it has reached a deal with Tonight host Conan O'Brien for his exit from the show, allowing Jay Leno to return to the late-night program he hosted for 17 years. The deal is worth a reported $44 million.

Network spokeswoman Allison Gollust confirmed the deal early Thursday but did not offer any other details. Earlier, The Wall Street Journal reported that O'Brien will get $32 million and that the network agreed to pay his staff $12 million in severance.