Forget $30 million: As Conan O'Brien is portrayed as the victim in his battle with NBC, his ratings are up, and fans are rallying around him, he could now get $40 million to walk away from his contract with the network, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The deal would preclude him from bad-mouthing the network (something he's been doing in his last nights as host of The Tonight Show), but it would allow him to take the reins of another show within a year, the newspaper reported. The agreement could be finalized, and there is some web chatter about an announcement for Tuesday ... but the same could be said for Monday.
O'Brien seemed in better spirits on his show Monday, reveling in the warmth of the "I'm with Coco" rally in the rain outside the Universal City lot where The Tonight Show show tapes. LAist reported that a few hundred people showed up, and it has photos.
He also joked about putting the show up for sale on Craigslist and putting up his own personal add that reads, in part, "Currently homeless must meet at your place ... If you want me to perform after midnight, it'll cost you."
NBC had proposed moving his show to 12:05 a.m. to push Jay Leno's failing prime-slot back to an 11:35 p.m. schedule where he was number one (and O'Brien was not, although his ratings shot through the roof after the controversy gained steam last week). The imbroglio seems to mean that NBC has to pay O'Brien to go away or risk an alleged breach-of-contract claim for moving his show.