Fox executives have not talked to Conan O'Brien about moving to their network, but Fox employees have been in touch with the Tonight Show host's associates, network entertainment president Kevin Reilly said Monday.
"I love Conan personally and professionally," Reilly said. "But right now he has a decision to make about his future. Until he makes that decision, there really is no conversation to be had, and we have not pursued it."
Reilly didn't close the door on future conversations, however. "Our position on late night has been consistent," Reilly said. "We've been in and out of that business, and it's never entirely off the agenda.
"We have talked to [O'Brien's] people, who we are in business with on multiple fronts, we talk to them all the time, so we've had some informal conversations, mostly about commiserating about the situation. Beyond that, we're not free to talk about any business negotiation or proposition that we have."
At the winter TV previews, NBC executives announced a plan to move Jay Leno's prime-time show to a half-hour spot beginning at 11:35, which would push back the start times of O'Brien's Tonight Show and Jimmy Fallon's Late Night by 30 minutes. Peacock executives said Sunday that they had given Leno, O'Brien and Fallon until Monday to consider the timeslot switches.
The New York Times reported Friday that Fox would be interested in an O'Brien-helmed late-night show. The network previously tried to lure O'Brien from NBC in 2004, offering three times his NBC salary, Variety reported.
The Times further reported that it might be difficult for O'Brien to get out of his contract. NBC executives expressed confidence to the newspaper that that the network has not breached his pact.
The reason? The contract, NBC argued, guaranteed O'Brien would be installed as host of The Tonight Show — and unlike many other deals for late-night stars, O'Brien's contract contains no specific language about the time period the show would occupy.