I’m hearing the total buyout amount for Conan O’Brien will be about $35 million — but that’s just for him.
The actual total will be much higher — around $50 million. The extra $15 million would cover Conan’s employees, many of whom are not covered by contracts or unions but moved to Los Angeles from New York with no guarantees.
Sources say the deal, however, is not signed and the bickering continues. What’s it all about? Those employees. Sources say NBC is not keen to pay all those bills and wants O’Brien to take care of his people himself — even though it’s the responsibility of NBC/GE/Comcast.
At the same time, sources say that previous reports about how O’Brien’s contract is being handled are incorrect. One report suggested that Conan’s payout would be offset by any money he signed for with his next employer — perhaps Fox. But sources insist that there will be no offset, and O’Brien will keep everything from the settlement and be free to earn whatever he can in the future.
In the meantime, Conan looks like he’s trotting out the big-gun celebrities this coming month. Many of them — like Tom Hanks and Martin Scorsese – are represented by 42West, the powerhouse PR firm that works for O’Brien too. If Conan’s ending his “Tonight Show” run, he’s going to do it with enormous ratings.