Due to his exit from NBC’s Tonight Show, Mr. O’Brien will collect a total severance of $45 million, with $4.5 million going to his executive producer, and the rest to be split up among 200 employees of the show. As part of the deal, Mr. O’Brien also agrees to stay off the air until September 2010.
Meanwhile, NBC is bringing back Jay Leno to host the “rebooted” Tonight Show at 10:35 p.m. weeknights on March 1, one day after the closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics. Leno held the gig for seventeen years after departing for his ill-fated prime-time show, which ends on February 11.
O’Brien exits The Tonight Show this Friday night (January 22), with Will Ferrell and Neil Young scheduled as guests (Ferrell appeared on O’Brien’s first Tonight Show on June 1, pushing his new movie, the ultra-horrid Land of the Lost – which had about as much success as Leno’s prime-time show, LOL.)