Meanwhile, behind the scenes, O'Brien's management team and NBC haggled over an exit agreement that would allow O'Brien to leave the network (and ultimately let Leno reclaim his old post as host of "The Tonight Show.")
Severance packages for show staff were a sticking point in the negotiations, O'Brien's manager, Gavin Polone told the press. NBC later argued that Polone's assertions were a "PR ploy" and that it was O'Brien's decisions, not NBC's, that would ultimately leave O'Brien's staff of some 200 people jobless.
Earlier this week, the two sides reached an agreement that would provide O'Brien a reported exit package of $33 million and another $12 million for his staff. Polone told ABCNews.com that O'Brien would also pay additional severance to his staff with a seven-figure sum out of his own pocket.
The agreement allows O'Brien to take another hosting job in September but, under a reported "nondisparagement" clause, bars him and NBC from saying negative things about one another for a set amount of time.
When it comes to finding a new TV home, Fox has been O'Brien's most vocal would-be suitor, but Polone said that the host also has other possible options.
Polone said O'Brien wants to return to the air as soon as possible.
"He's doing so well right now it'd be horrible to lose that momentum," he said.