Conan O'Brien's guest list hints at exit
Will Ferrelll, his first 'Tonight Show' guest, to appear FridayIn the strongest indication yet that Friday indeed will mark Conan O'Brien's final "Tonight Show," a list of the booked guests for the rest of this week released Tuesday featured Will Ferrell set to appear Friday.
Ferrell, of course, was the first guest on "The Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien" when the show launched June 1. It has become somewhat of a tradition on "Tonight."
Jay Leno's first guest on the show, Billy Crystal, guested on what was supposed to be the talk show host's second-to-last "Tonight" in May. (Leno is now set to return as "Tonight" host March 1.)
The reason why Crystal didn't appear on the very last episode was that, in a demonstration of what was billed as a seamless transition, Leno's guest then was Conan O'Brien.
It is safe to say that there is zero chance O'Brien would return the favor.
Other big names scheduled for O'Brien's final week on "Tonight":
Tuesday, Jan. 19: Quentin Tarantino, Paul Bettany and musical guest Spoon
Wednesday, Jan. 20: Adam Sandler, Joel McHale and musical guest Joss Stone
Thursday, Jan. 21: Robin Williams and musical guest Barry Manilow
Friday, Jan. 22: Tom Hanks, Ferrell
As for the official announcement of O'Brien's exit and Leno's return to "Tonight," it was delayed again Tuesday as the two sides have not settled yet on the size of the severance packages of the "Tonight" staff.
NBC and O'Brien's team reached a deal in principal on the talk show host's compensation last weekend. Legal representatives have been hammering out details of payments for the rest of the "Tonight" crew since then.
Asked Tuesday by the New York Times about the reasons for the holdup, O'Brien's manager Gavin Polone said that "it's the same thing that's going on all over the country when people are put out of work."
"We're fighting to do better for them," he added.
NBC fired back, saying "this latest posturing is nothing more than a PR ploy."
"It was Conan's decision to leave NBC that resulted in nearly 200 of his staffers being out of work," the network's statement read. "We have already agreed to pay millions of dollars to compensate every one of them."