O'Brien, NBC wrangle over staff severance
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The sticking point in Conan O'Brien's complex exit negotiations with NBC involves his TV staff, not Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog, a person familiar with the talks said yesterday.
Although discussions also focused on whether NBC would keep the rights to familiar O'Brien comedy bits including Triumph, O'Brien's focus was ensuring severance deals for his "Tonight" staff and crew, the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
NBC fired back in a statement, saying "it was Conan's decision to leave NBC that resulted in nearly 200 of his staffers being out of work."
A spokesman for O'Brien declined to comment.
So far, negotiations have yielded a proposal deal that could pay O'Brien more than $30 million for leaving NBC and "The Tonight Show," allowing Jay Leno to return to late night from his soon-to-be canceled prime-time show.
CHARGE AGAINST LETTERMAN SUSPECT UPHELD
A jury should get to decide whether a TV producer's dealings with David Letterman were attempted blackmail or just hard-nosed business, a judge ruled yesterday.
In refusing to throw out an attempted grand larceny charge against producer Robert "Joe" Halderman, the judge put the case on a path toward trial, which could bring testimony from the "Late Show" host about events in his private life that have been pushed into public view.
The case spurred Letterman to tell viewers in October that he had slept with women on his staff.
Prosecutors say Halderman demanded $2 million to keep quiet about the talk-show host's affairs.
WEBB SNARES 'SPIDER-MAN' DIRECTOR JOB
Marc Webb has caught the job of "Spider-Man" director.
Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios announced yesterday that the "(500) Days of Summer" director will helm the next "Spider-Man" film following the departure of Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire, the director and star who worked on the previous three Spidey films. The fourth installment is set for a 2012 release and will focus on a younger version of the superhero.
CHINA YANKS 'AVATAR' FROM THEATERS
Fresh from a victory at the Golden Globes and another record-setting weekend at the box office, James Cameron's blockbuster "Avatar" met with some resistance from the Chinese government, it was reported yesterday.
The film, which is nearing the worldwide box-office record, is being pulled from 1,628 screens across China, according to various news accounts. Reasons for the movie's withdrawal vary, as some sources say the film is nearing the end of a normal run on Chinese screens while others point out its themes are of a sensitive nature to Beijing. There are fears that the film draws parallels to Chinese who have been displaced due to property development, the U.K.'s Guardian Web site reported.
Worldwide, "Avatar" has taken in $1.6 billion.
— Advertiser News Services