Conan O'Brien finally talks about leaving NBC
Finally, we get to hear what was on Conan O'Brien's mind after getting the shaft from NBC, since the comedian and one-time Tonight Show host takes to 60 Minutes on Sunday to show his true colors. Why did it take so long? Hey, he had to abide by the terms of his payout and not show up on TV until after May 1 (true story).
"I’m fine; I’m doing great," O'Brien said in the interview with Steve Kroft, which was recorded awhile back but was being held until Sunday's episode. He does take a couple swipes at the principals in his row with the network, however.
“If I had surrendered The Tonight Show and handed it over to somebody publicly and wished them well, and then ... six months later. ...” O’Brien mused. "But that’s me, you know. Everyone’s got their own, you know, way of doing things.”
He begged off Kroft's assertions that he got "screwed," saying, "No, I didn't. I'm fine. It just didn't work out." But he did chide NBC for giving preference to Jay Leno, saying the decision came down to money, since Leno's prime time deal would have cost much more -- $150 million -- to settle versus O'Brien's payoff to leave the Tonight Show. He said he wasn't surprised NBC parent General Electric took Leno's side, but Conan was "absolutely not" given a chance, citing his mere seven months at the helm, while Leno originally took 18 months to wrest the No. 1 spot from David Letterman.
And while O'Brien has to abide by a non-disparagement clause in his settlement (indeed, he pointed out he had a copy of it in his wallet), he did walk the line when asked whether he thought it was right Leno returned to 11:30 p.m.: “He went and took that show back and I think in a similar situation, if roles had been reversed, I know -- I know me, I wouldn’t have done that,” Conan said. That's okay, we'll still tune in to your new TBS show this fall.
[Photo: Getty Images]