TMZ is now reporting an "exclusive" that Jay Leno has "struck a deal" to do an 11:35 p.m. show on NBC.
This, days after multiple outlets — from the New York Times to the Wrap to TMZ itself – had noted that it was clear Conan O’Brien wouldn’t be doing "Tonight" at 12:05 a.m. As soon as that happened, it was obvious that Leno would be back with a full hour at 11:35.
Much is being made by some of NBC being "in breach" of Leno’s 10 p.m. deal, and that NBC would have to do a new deal to keep Jay at the network.
Probably true, technically. If so, here’s how those talks likely went:
NBC: Conan’s out of here. You want back on as host of "The Tonight Show"? Or whatever we decide to call it to avoid any possible lawsuits? It’d be an hour and you’d get to tell jokes.
Leno: OK. Sure. I just want to tell jokes at 11:30 because I’m Jay Leno and that’s what I do. Tell jokes. At 11:30!
NBC: Right. Cool. We’ll send along the paperwork to your agents. Oh, wait, you don’t have an agent. Guess we’re in for some hardball negotiations, eh, Leno?
Leno: Heehee. Jokes! 11:30!