As the NBC late night TV showdown continues, details are surfacing about Conan O’Brien’s contract with the peacock network. Conan can try to hold a claim against the network for jockeying him around; however, TMZ reports that Conan’s contract never specified a solid time slot for his program.
Since Conan’s contract did not define a guaranteed time period, NBC has the right to air The Tonight Show at any hour they choose, according to TMZ.
In the contract, NBC did guarantee that Conan would host The Tonight Show, and the network is willing to hold true to its promise.
Conan’s main argument is that the The Tonight Show is an institution and airing it a different time than its 11:35 time slot, which was started by the great Johnny Carson — would do a disservice to the established program. He released a statement yesterday addressing the importance and meaning his program holds for him.
His legal stance is held on the basis of an “implied” guarantee the show would begin at 11:35. Sources tell TMZ Conan’s people met with NBC execs yesterday afternoon to negotiate a deal, and possibly a way out.
Over in Jay Leno‘s arena, his deal specifically guarantees his 10:00 p.m. time period, so NBC must negotiate a new deal with him before he moves back to 11:35 p.m. time slot, TMZ reports.
Not everyone is in Conan’s court. Some executives who oversee The Tonight Show feel Conan is himself, in part, to blame. The comedian has always gone his own way, not always taking advice from his bosses.