So then it was NBC exploiting an oversight in Conan's contract so it could keep their precious Leno waggling his chin and over-explaining his punchlines, right? Actually, the explanation is much simpler and more logical: Both programs were failing. Neither host's audience followed him to his new spot. Team Coco blamed that on Leno's new show providing a terrible lead-in to Conan's, but Leno's new show didn't start until several months after Conan's. Even without Leno's comedy black hole shitting up his lead-in, O'Brien's Tonight Show ratings were still in the toilet.
The only crime Leno committed was having better lawyers than Conan. Conan's contract forced NBC to pay him $45 million if it fired him. But Jay's early termination fee was a ludicrous $150 million. But -- and this is important -- he gets that $150 million only if the studio fires him.
His bosses essentially came to him and said, "Listen, we have two options here: We fire Conan and put you in his job. Or we fire Conan and you refuse to take his job, thus rendering you and your entire production staff unemployed."
Even Wally Wingert?
What would you answer in that situation? Keep in mind that any way you cut it, the other guy is fired; the only decision in your hands is whether you want to lose your job too. Then also keep in mind that it's not just you -- but all of your friends and co-workers -- whose jobs are on the line.