According to insiders, O’Brien’s pact with NBC allows the former “Tonight Show” host to start conducting interviews with the media on May 1.
O’Brien would be a huge “get” in the talk show and news magazine world — and as you might expect, insiders close to the star say the inquiries have been relentless from the likes of Larry King and plenty of others.
But it’s unclear how and when O’Brien will actually end his silence — or if he’ll even immediately want to. (Sitting down for a TV chat is not close to being a priority for him right now.) The once and probably future late night host will now be busy over the next few months anyway, taking his show on the road via his 32-city “Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television” tour.
But O’Brien’s exit arrangement doesn’t bar him from doing TV after May 1, which means he could conceivably appear as a guest co-host on a show like “Live with Regis and Kelly” or on a chatfest like “Late Show with David Letterman.”
What he can’t do, however, is make disparaging remarks about NBC — and it’s unclear how much he can say about what transpired during the Great Late Night Battle of 2010. NBC likely put the May 1 date into the exit package in order to install a cushion between Jay Leno’s “Tonight Show” return, and before O’Brien could show up on a competing program like Letterman.
O’Brien can’t launch his own show until at least September — but with talks still in the early stages at outlets like Fox, it’s unclear whether a show could even be launched that quickly anyway.
O’Brien will be performing his show in Las Vegas on May 1 — so perhaps a lucky Sin City TV station will score the host’s first post-“Tonight Show” interview.