Well, it's now super-official: Friday night (January 22) will be Conan O'Brien's final hour as the host of "The Tonight Show." According to a statement released by NBC, the host will be officially released from his contract on September 1, 2010, after which time he'll be able to do whatever he wants with his time. In the meantime, he's walking away with a settlement worth $32 million, with an additional $12 million going to cover his staff (many of whom relocated from New York to Los Angeles when Conan relocated). Following the Olympics, everything will return to the status quo: Jay Leno will host "The Tonight Show" at 11:35, followed by programs by Jimmy Fallon and Carson Daly.
Even though the deal wasn't hammered out until late last night, O'Brien has been treating this week as his final farewell, regularly tearing into NBC, looking back on his seven months at the helm and inviting old friends on the show for a proper goodbye. On Wednesday night's episode alone, O'Brien mocked NBC throughout his monologue, put together a sketch with no jokes that cost the network $1.5 million (due to the purchase of a Bugatti Veyron and the licensing of a Rolling Stones track), brought out all the hamsters that have been born since he took over "The Tonight Show" (in a sideways jab at Leno) and generally looked like he was hellbent on burning as many bridges as he could before he was shuffled off the air. And, irony of ironies, the ratings are up 50 percent.
Friday night's lineup is set, with Will Ferrell, Tom Hanks and Neil Young booked as guests. Ferrell and Hanks both appeared on the first week of "The Tonight Show" back when Conan started, so there's a certain poetic symmetry to their appearances on the show. As for Neil Young, Conan's a big fan (Young did a week-long residency on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" back in 2005). Will Conan facilitate the first duet between Neil Young and Jimmy "Neil Young" Fallon as his final exit? Or will Young simply drop in, raise hell and end the show on a high note? And what song should he perform? Since Pearl Jam acted as Conan's first musical guest on "The Tonight Show," why not bring them back for a team-up on "Rockin' in the Free World"? Should he whip out something poetic like "Hey Hey My My (Into the Black)"? Or perhaps the tone will be more solemn ("Heart of Gold" would make for an awfully melancholy but gorgeous exit).
What do you think? What Neil Young song should end the Conan O'Brien era on "The Tonight Show"? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @mtvnews!