NBC paid $50 million to refurbish the old Jack Benny stage on the Universal lot, and is willing to lease it back to O’Brien for his new late night show, which could go to Fox, reports the LAT, one of several cable channels (not Comedy Central) or into syndication.
O’Brien’s The Tonight Show cost NBC $90 million a year to mount. The issues that separate O’Brien and Fox from launching the network into the late night wars are financial. Fox is happy to put O’Brien on before his midnight curfew, but they don’t want to spend more than $60 million so that their TV stations can come out ahead. O’Brien isn’t sure he can put on a competitive show for that price.
Meanwhile, O’Brien is setting off on a 30-city “Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television” tour, which could wind up in a theatrical documentary, reports Deadline New York.