The former Late Night host, who left the network in January, says he still plans to use many of his signature characters and sketches on his new TBS late night show.
"If there's something we did for a long time that we've established as ours, we'll figure out a way to do it," O'Brien told Rolling Stone, according to the New York Post, which obtained an early copy of the interview. "I won't be denied my Masturbating Bear!"
O'Brien signed a $45 million exit deal with NBC shortly after executives announced their plan to move his Tonight predecessor, Jay Leno, back to late night. Although part of O'Brien's agreement gave NBC the rights to his Late Night and Tonight gags, O'Brien says he's ready for a battle.
"What I really wanna do," O'Brien said, "is be sued over the bear and then appear in court with the Masturbating Bear. 'Your Honor, this bear can't help himself!' "
O'Brien was interviewed in advance of his new late night show, Conan, which premieres on TBS on Monday, Nov. 8 at 11/10c. Following the end of a seven-month Tonight tenure and his Legally Prohibited From Being Funny tour last spring, O'Brien says he's come to terms with his unceremonious exit.
"There were times when I've told myself, 'Maybe I could have gone on and done The Tonight Show for 15 years, but never had the impact that I had doing those last six shows,' " O'Brien said. "So maybe that moment's a gift."