Multiple reports suggest a settlement between NBC and Conan O'Brien (and his staff) could be finalized today, after talks over the weekend. Jay Leno will resume as the host of the decades-long late-night institution -- a job he held since 1993 -- after the Vancouver Winter Olympics ends in late February, according to news stories.
NBC's previous plan to move "The Tonight Show" to 12:05 am with O'Brien at the helm -- and put Leno in place at 11:35 a.m. in a half-hour talk show similar to the one he had at 10 p.m. -- was rejected by O'Brien.
O'Brien would be free to pursue other ventures as early as September. He's likely to land at Fox. However, analysts say Fox may need more time to arrange such a deal, in part, because most of its affiliates have syndicated or other shows committed for 11 p.m. time slots.
Since O'Brien's tenure as "The Tonight Show" host, he has given up the dominant lead Leno maintained for over a decade among key 18-49 viewers. "Late Show with David Letterman" has been regularly beating "Tonight" among 18-49 viewers and overall total viewers. To his credit, O'Brien has been grabbing better younger 18-34 viewer numbers than Leno.
Since the start of the controversy, however --- now about a week or so old -- O'Brien has rocketed up to the No. 1 position in 18-49 viewership.