Everyone in the legal world spent a whole lot of ink analysing the legal battle between Conan O’Brien and NBC in light of the fact the contract was missing a specified time for The Tonight Show.
We couldn’t believe that the contract would not have specified the time in the definition of “The Tonight Show,” even if it didn’t specifically address the timing of the show otherwise in the contract. (Definitions in contracts are usually beyond specific — who, what, when, where, eye colour and mother’s maiden name.)
Well, according to THR, Esq., the time was included in the definition of The Tonight Show after all. “[W]e’ve finally tracked down a copy of the O’Brien contract, and — lo and behold — NBC did define “Tonight” as the series that airs at 11:35 as far back as 2002,” THR reported.
In a 2002 amendment to O’Brien’s original NBC contract, the Tonight Show is defined as the “series that airs at 11:35,” THR said.
NBC’s “comeback,” apparently, was that the time clause was not specifically mentioned in later amendments to the contract. Jeff Zucker to Charlie Rose: “In Conan’s current contract, there is no guarantee of [a] time slot for ‘The Tonight Show.'”
That, of course, is of no real merit if the language of original contract is incorporated and nothing else conflicts or supersedes that language.
We have not seen the contract, but THR said that that is in fact the case, and noted that it is probably one of the reasons Conan was in a great bargaining position and eventually worked out such a sweet $40-plus million deal for himself and his staff.
The THR article is also vindication, we imagine, for O’Brien’s contract attorney, Leigh Brecheen, for whom it could not be easy to sit around and hear everyone (including this site) criticise her drafting skills. Brecheen and O’Brien’s litigator, Patty Glaser, went on the offensive earlier this month to assure everyone Glaser had just what she needed in the contract to go to battle for O’Brien.
Time clause or no, we thought O’Brien was in a pretty decent position. If THR’s contract review is accurate, he had even less to worry about than we thought.
Read THR, Esq.’s full report – which also noted O’Brien was in Tonight Show talks in 2002, two years before previously thought, here.
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