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NBC U readies O’Brien suit

Peacock claims breach of exclusivity provisions

NBC Universal TV is expected to file a lawsuit today against former “Access Hollywood” anchor Pat O’Brien, seeking to prevent him from working on his new Paramount-distribbed strip, “The Insider.”

NBC U believes O’Brien is in breach of the exclusivity provisions on his “Access” contract, which doesn’t expire until the end of August. NBC U execs were angered by Par’s decision last week to officially announce O’Brien as the host of the syndie mag.

As part of the announcement, O’Brien has been actively promoting “The Insider” and giving interviews about the show. O’Brien was also spotted at the Ivy restaurant last week at a business lunch regarding the show.

NBC U is also expected to claim in its suit that O’Brien is actively looking to recruit several “Access” staffers to join “The Insider,” which network execs say is a breach of his contract.

As of Monday night, there was a chance lawyers for NBC U and Par/O’Brien would agree to a two-day delay.

Par officially announced that O’Brien was headed to “The Insider” last Friday, a few weeks after word first broke of O’Brien’s decision to ankle “Access Hollywood” (Daily Variety, June 17). That official announcement triggered NBC’s legal move.

It’s believed money was a chief factor behind O’Brien’s decision, with Par stepping up to offer the anchor substantially more coin than his NBC deal. Peacock insiders weren’t happy with the way O’Brien handled his exit, according to several people familiar with the situation.

NBC’s legal action could also be seen as a defensive move against “The Insider,” which will be airing opposite “Access” in some markets. If O’Brien can’t hype the show or appear in ads until Sept. 1, Par will have just a few days to promote the skein before it premieres.

Par declined comment.

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