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Conan O’Brien Signs Deal to Leave ‘Tonight Show’

Conan O’Brien will soon have more free time on his hands.

Conan O’Brien has signed a deal to leave The Tonight Show, NBC reported this morning. That clears the way for Jay Leno to return as host of the long-running show, probably after the conclusion of the Winter Olympics.

“A deal is signed and an official announcement will be made this morning,” said a network rep. NBC turned to another source for the final numbers:

The Wall Street Journal reported that the agreement with O’Brien was expected to include a payoff of about $32 million for O’Brien and about $12 million for his staff,” for a total payout of $44 million.

Friday night’s show will be Conan’s last. “I should have known something was up when NBC sent me that 2010 calendar that only went up to January,” O’Brien joked on his show last night.  On Tuesday he said he was “just three days away from the biggest drinking binge in history.”

The deal reportedly includes a “non-disparagement clause”that will keep Conan O’Brien from beefing about his treatment by NBC.  For awhile, at least.

See some photos of Conan O’Brien »

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