I've learned about a meeting that began at 1:45 PM at NBC Universal about The Conan War: On one side of the room -- NBCU bigwigs Jeff Gaspin and Marc Graboff. On the other -- O'Brien's reps: manager Gavin Palone, WME agent and board member Rick Rosen, and the newest member of Team O'Brien, Hollywood litigator Patty Glaser, who was hired on Sunday and is WME's legal shark of choice.
I wouldn't want to be Gaspin or Graboff right now: Gavin can be as mean as a rabid dog, Rick's agency reps 60% of the TV talent, and Glaser is a pitbull. This is bloodsport. I've learned both NBCU chief Jeff Zucker as well as Gaspin were told that, before it went out, Conan was publicly making that statement (see below
My insiders say O'Brien's reps didn't want him to do it. "They were not thrilled. They told him it would undercut his negotiating leverage," one source revealed to me. "But Conan wouldn't listen to them. He wanted to make it." When Conan read the statement to the staff, "he broke up. He began to cry," one of my insiders reveals. "Because for 17 years he was working towards The Tonight Show
, and now he says he's prepared to walk away from it. That's an amazing thing. An amazing
thing. But he takes very seriously the fact that The Tonight Show
baton was passed to him."
Meanwhile, Hollywood creatives are already starting to show support for Conan against NBC. At the Television Critics Association confab, near the end of the session with ABC TV showrunners, TV showrunners Steve Levitan (Modern Family
) and Bill Lawrence (Cougar Town
) said almost in unison: "Hey, did you guys read Conan's letter?" Lawrence added: "I love it. Man, it was just ballsy. It's just the way I hoped it would be."