NBC honcho Jeff Zucker is now threatening to take Conan O’Brien off the air entirely and “ice” him for the remaining three-plus years of his contract, preventing him from appearing on NBC or any other network, O’Brien’s reps tell Nikki Finke. Jay Leno would then get the Tonight Show back, and NBC would simply eat the $60 million penalty it’d pay Conan for pulling him from the show.
Zucker made his threat following O’Brien’s defiant statement that he would not acquiesce to pushing back the Tonight Show. O’Brien's team says NBC can’t legally ice him, but the contract wording is ambiguous. “Everything now is at a standstill. There’s been a proposal, and a counter-proposal,” says Finke’s source. “This will end up in front of a judge if someone doesn’t wise up.”
(Read more Jay Leno Conan O'Brien stories.)