It’s official, tonight marks the end of Conan O’Brien‘s reign as host of The Tonight Show. On hand for tonight’s final show will be actors Tom Hanks and Will Ferrell. Incidentally, it was Ferrell who appeared on Conan‘s first Tonight Show back in June, while Hanks was a guest on the show’s second night.
Hanks was originally scheduled to appear earlier this week, but posted on his Twitter page: “Going on Friday’s Big Show. What WILL happen? Tune in. Hanx”
For his final musical guest, Conan will be joined by Neil Young. Back in 2005, when Conan was still hosting NBC‘s Late Night, Young took part in a week-long gig as Conan‘s music guest.
According to recent information, NBC reached an agreement with Conan yesterday that would end his contract with a buyout of $45 million, of that amount, it has been reported that $12 million will be used to pay his current staff’s severance.
In addition to the $45 million, Conan, or Coco, as fans have come to call him, isn’t making this transition cheap on NBC. Earlier this week, O’Brien introduced some new comedy sketches and characters and characters to The Tonight Show that will end up costing NBC some serious cash. He used the original master recording of the Rolling Stones‘ Satisfaction, as the theme song for one of those new characters–-a car disguised as a mouse--which means NBC will be responsible for paying out a large royalty for airing the song.
Aside from the monetary terms of the deal between Conan and NBC, there’s also the matter of a temporary non-compete. Basically, Conan must wait until Fall of 2010 before teaming with another network. Odds are he’ll finally bring FOX into the late night talk show game. The most recent entry into late night for FOX is Saturday night’s The Wanda Sykes Show. FOX has also attempted late night chatfest that starred Spike Feresten, Chevy Chase and Joan Rivers.
The Tonight Show has been a staple of NBC‘s late night lineup since it debuted in 1954 with host Steve Allen. Allen left he show in 1957, at which time Jack Paar took the reigns. Johnny Carson became the show’s definitive host by holding court for 30 years, from 1962-1992. Leno has the next longest tenure, having helmed the late night flagship from 1992 until 2009, a term that will begin again following NBC‘s coverage of The Winter Olympics.