Thursday, January 14, 2010

NBC getting tough with Conan

Entertainment blogger Nikki Finke is reporting that NBC is taking "a super tough threatening position" over Conan O'Brien's refusal to host "The Tonight Show" at midnight. According to an O'Brien rep, NBC's Jeff Zucker "is threatening to ice Conan," threatening, "'I'll keep you off the air for 3 1/2 years.' Which doesn't have a chance in hell of happening. What I really think Zucker wants is to hold him off the market for at least six months to a year until the dust settles and Leno is secure and Conan is squelched."

As for Conan's statement to the "People of Earth," scuttlebutt is that Conan's people "were not thrilled. They told him it would undercut his negotiating leverage," one source told Finke. "But Conan wouldn't listen to them. He wanted to make it."

ESPN's Bill Simmons, a former "Jimmy Kimmel Live" writer, recently tweeted that "Next week is Conan's final week hosting the Tonight Show. His staff is trying to book big guests so he goes out with a bang. It's true."

Meanwhile, Conan's war with NBC has been good for ratings -- he easily beat Letterman last night in the top 25 markets.