Amid confirmed reports that Conan O’Brien will pocket $45 million to leave his 7-month gig as Tonight Show star, NBC on Thursday morning said that it and the red-haired host have reached an agreement for him to exit the late-night franchise – permitting Jay Leno to return to the 11:35 p.m. program he hosted for 17 years.
Conan’s final show will air Friday, with Tom Hanks scheduled to appear as well as Will Ferrell (who was O’Brien’s first Tonight guest last June) and musician Neil Young.
The “new” Leno incarnation of Tonight will debut March 1, and NBC’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon will continue to air from 12:35-1:35 a.m. NBC aIso confirmed that O’Brien is clear to appear on another network as of Sept. 1.
The bad news: Triumph the Insult Dog will have to remain behind on NBC.
– Stephen M. Silverman