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Conan Says NBC Wants Custody Of 'Masturbating Bear'

Conan Says NBC Wants Custody Of 'Masturbating Bear'

NBC

As the world waited this week for a conclusion to the dramatic battle between Tonight Show host Conan O'Brien and his soon-to-be ex-employer NBC, he hinted during his monologue Tuesday night that the apparent stall in severance negotiations might be over the "intellectual property" his late-night skits have amassed over the years.

Reports early in the week indicated O'Brien might have been holding out for millions in severance for his staff as his show seems poised to wrap up this week, but he said Tuesday that NBC wants to retain the "intellectual property" he and his staff helped to create for the Tonight Show and Late Night. Specifically, he joked that NBC wanted to keep the likes of his "Masturbating Bear" character as well as Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, whose skits have been spun into DVDs.

He said it was quite a country where a masturbating bear and a dog puppet with a cigar in its mouth could be considered "intellectual property."

Reports state that O'Brien could be close to a deal to exit the network for $40 million. NBC tried to push his show to 12:05 a.m. to make way for a revived late-night appearance by Jay Leno at 11:35 p.m. Leno's own prime-time show tanked and is scheduled to be pulled from the network's schedule next month. O'Brien lost the number one late-night-show standing in the ratings that Leno had before he was nudged to prime-time. But O'Brien's ratings this week have been strong.

O'Brien's dispute centers around whether NBC is contractually obligated to keep the Tonight Show at 11:35 with him at the helm. The answer, for NBC, might be to sweep the matter under the rug and buy out his contract, possibly allowing O'Brien to work at another network within a year.

O'Brien continued to joke about the imbroglio during his monologue, hinting that this week will be the last for him and NBC: "Hello I'm Conan O'Brien and I am just three days away from the biggest drinking binge in history," he said.

His list of guests this week makes it feel like a grand finale for the host: Adam Sandler is on Wednesday, Robin Williams is scheduled for Thrusday, and Tom Hanks and Will Farrell are scheduled for what could be his last day at the helm of his dream job.