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Official, Conan O'Brien Leaves 'Tonight Show' for $45 Million

January 22, 2010 (4:43 am) GMT
Additionally, Jay Leno returns to his old seat starting March 1 and will show why he's 'America's late-night leader for more than a dozen years'.

The deal has been sealed, NBC is to pay a total of $45 million for pushing him out of the 11.35 P.M. slot. O'Brien, who has only hosted "" for nearly eight months, quits the Peacock so that he can mount a new late-night show with competing network and can return to his old job.

NBC and O'Brien issued a joint statement Thursday, January 21 morning that O'Brien has been released from his contract in order he can "pursue other opportunities after September 1, 2010." Additionally, they confirmed that O'Brien will host the show for the last time this Friday, January 22 with and as guests.

In terms of number, O'Brien gets $33 million as compensation for his remaining 2.5 years in contract. The other $12 million is used to close out contracts with others who worked on the show. Above that, NBC is also to pay additional $600,000 for the employees who are out of job. Some of them had followed O'Brien from L. A. to New York when he got the job. O'Brien's manager Gavin Polone said previously that the comedian is likely to pay some of the staff from his own pocket.

Despite losing money, NBC keeps showing confidence in Jay Leno. In a statement, Jeff Gaspin, the chairman of NBC Universal Television Entertainment, said, "We're pleased that Jay is returning to host the franchise that he helmed brilliantly and successfully for many years. He is an enormous talent, a consummate professional and one of the hardest-working performers on television."

Leno will get to return to his old seat starting March 1. It is believed that the network will do a worked-over version of the set of "". NBC said, "The program will continue to showcase many of the features that made Leno America's late-night leader for more than a dozen years."

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