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Conan O'Brien turns up the heat on NBC

conan_obrien_nbc.gi.top.jpgConan O'Brien is negotiating his exit from NBC.By Ben Rooney, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Conan O'Brien took his NBC bosses to task Tuesday and suggested that this could be his last week hosting "The Tonight Show" as negotiations over his reported $40 million agreement to leave the network appear to have stalled.

"Hi, I'm Conan O'Brien, and I'm just three days away from the biggest drinking binge in history," the comedian said during the opening monologue of Tuesday night's broadcast.

O'Brien has been at odds with NBC since the network tried to push "The Tonight Show," which he has hosted since June, to a later time slot. The dispute erupted into a weeks-long controversy that has galvanized fans of the show and roiled the entertainment industry.

"Yesterday there were rallies for me in cities across the country, including Chicago," O'Brien said. "You can tell things are bad when even Cubs fans feel sorry for you."

The comments came amid reports that O'Brien is close to signing a $40 million deal with NBC to walk away from "The Tonight Show." The agreement would bar O'Brien from criticizing NBC, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

O'Brien acknowledged the reports in his monologue, but proceeded to insult NBC in both English and Spanish.

"Some papers are reporting that I'm legally prohibited from saying anything bad about NBC," he said. "But nobody said anything about speaking in Spanish."

"NBC esta manejado por hijos de cabras imbeciles que comen dinero y evacuan problemas. (NBC is run by brainless sons of goats who eat money and crap trouble.)"

In another colorful jab at the network, O'Brien said "NBC is headed downhill faster than a fat guy chasing a runaway cheese-wheel."

O'Brien also referred to reports that the negotiations with NBC would strip him of his intellectual property rights to certain characters he created while host of "Late Night."

"Isn't it great to live in a country where a cigar-smoking dog puppet and a bear that masturbates are considered intellectual property?'" the comedian asked rhetorically.

The dispute stems from NBC's abrupt decision to cancel "The Jay Leno Show," which had received lukewarm ratings after only three months on the air. The move would have resulted in Leno hosting a new, half-hour show at 11:35 p.m. ET, followed by "Tonight" with O'Brien at 12:05 a.m.

O'Brien rejected the change and said in a Jan. 12 letter addressed to "People of Earth" that moving the show back would "seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting." To top of page

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