The Super-Secret Conan O'Brien Exit Deal Points, Revealed!
The Great Late Night Wars of 2010 are over. They're finally over. They. Are. Finally. Over. Pardon our weary overemphasis of this fact, but we were made a little anxious by the expectation that a statement would be issued on Tuesday, only to be made to wait an additional two days to get the closure we all so desperately craved. (Though part of us feared that NBC was going to opt for an unfortunate "We Have A Dream...That Jay Leno Is Returning To The Tonight Show; Conan Free At Last, Free At Last" announcement on MLK day, unable to avoid the self-destructive streak that got them into this mess.) But now, after those extra 48 or so hours of intense, acrimony-fueled lawyering, it's all done, and we know that O'Brien's free to chase his late-night dreams elsewhere, while Leno will soon regain his cherished gig putting the coveted Life-Alert demo to bed with a bowl of warm Headlines at 11:35 pm each night. So, you might be wondering, what were the big hold-ups in the annoyingly protracted negotiations? Through its usual channels*, Movieline has discovered the most contentious points in Conan's exit deal, which, in the interest of finally putting this whole mess behind us, we present after the jump:
*This is satire. Stop hyperventilating.
· The non-disparagement clause: Essentially buying Conan's silence about the utter fiasco that unfolded over the past few weeks, O'Brien's reported $32 million personal pay-out means he's contractually obligated to keep silent about his treatment by NBC. In the earliest draft of the deal, an enraged Jeff Zucker, upset at being made a national object of derision on his own network's airwaves, initially stipulated that Conan wear an electronic genital-cuff that would deliver debilitating shocks to the host's most delicate area any time a keyword from a predetermined list was uttered. After O'Brien's camp flatly refused such an extreme measure, NBC countered with an ankle-bracelet solution that would automatically debit money from the host's settlement for each disparagement violation. This, too, was quickly vetoed, with the two sides eventually agreeing that any mention of Zucker by O'Brien in the media would describe him as "an exceedingly competent man put in a terrible position by circumstances out of his control," but that Conan could deliver the rote line in as sarcastic a tone as he desired.
· Intellectual property: Much speculation about the deal concerned the future of the characters O'Brien created during his time at NBC, specifically one of late-night's most recognizable personalities, the Masturbating Bear. Team Conan conceded this I.P. to the network, but initially proposed that for Zucker to take full custody of the character, the Bear would sit outside the executive's office each day until a new Conan project debuted, greeting Zucker's every entry and exit with a furious round of diaper-jiggling self-abuse. After a testy back-and-forth, both sides settled for a solution in which the Bear merely rests a paw on the diaper while shaking his head in disappointment when he encounters Zucker, a far more restrained threat display.
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