According to O'Brien's camp, the latest drama between O'Brien and NBC revolved around stalled negotiations over O'Brien's exit package -- estimated to be between $30 and $40 million -- and how much his staff of some 200 people will be compensated after the show ends. Many "Tonight Show" employees lived in New York and worked for O'Brien's former show before moving to California to work on "The Tonight Show."
"The main issue at this stage is how well they're planning on taking care of the people who are out of work, and that's Conan's main concern and that's the focus of all negotiations at this point," Gavin Polone, O'Brien's manager, told ABCNews.com on Tuesday.
But NBC has criticized Polone's portrayal of the negotiations, calling it a "PR ploy" and arguing that O'Brien's decisions, not NBC's, will leave his staff jobless.
"It was Conan's decision to leave NBC that resulted in nearly 200 of his staffers being out of work," the network said Tuesday in a written statement. "We have already agreed to pay millions of dollars to compensate every one of them. This latest posturing is nothing more than a PR ploy."
Leno explained his side of the story on his show Monday night.
The former (and apparently future) "Tonight Show" host said he'd tried to avoid doing a show in prime time but was convinced by NBC that it could work and that he would be able to keep his staff of 175.
Four months later, he said, network executives informed him they were canceling his show but told him they wouldn't let him out of his contract because he was still "a valuable asset" to the company.
He said he agreed to host his show at 11:35 p.m. after NBC "almost guaranteed" to him that O'Brien would accept a "Tonight Show" shift to 12:05 a.m.
With reports from ABC News' Brian Braiker.