A Quiet Departure Please! Conan take your $40 million and shut up…

January 18, 2010

According to the Wall Street Journal…Conan’s exit from his dream job at NBC is almost done.  He’s reported to get $40 million to stop trashing NBC brass and get lost.  He can start working again within a year.

Conan O’Brien is close to signing a nearly $40 million agreement to walk away from his dream job hosting NBC’s “The Tonight Show,” bringing down the curtain on one of the entertainment industry’s biggest programming debacles.

The comedian’s exit, expected to be finalized as early as Monday evening, agreement prohibits Mr. O’Brien from bad-mouthing his former NBC bosses, according to people familiar with the matter, but paves the way for him to land another TV gig within a year.

Guess that’s not a bad payday – considering the damage to his career.  Some would say he’s toast.  Doubt that’s the case, but the photo was priceless.

The Wall Street Journal report is here.

By the way…here’s Conan’s statement (good beginning for a negotiation)

People of Earth:

In the last few days, I’ve been getting a lot of sympathy calls, and I want to start by making it clear that no one should waste a second feeling sorry for me.  For 17 years, I’ve been getting paid to do what I love most and, in a world with real problems, I’ve been absurdly lucky.  That said, I’ve been suddenly put in a very public predicament and my bosses are demanding an immediate decision.

Six years ago, I signed a contract with NBC to take over The Tonight Show in June of 2009.  Like a lot of us, I grew up watching Johnny Carson every night and the chance to one day sit in that chair has meant everything to me.  I worked long and hard to get that opportunity, passed up far more lucrative offers, and since 2004 I have spent literally hundreds of hours thinking of ways to extend the franchise long into the future.   It was my mistaken belief that, like my predecessor, I would have the benefit of some time and, just as important, some degree of ratings support from the prime-time schedule.  Building a lasting audience at 11:30 is impossible without both.

But sadly, we were never given that chance.  After only seven months, with my Tonight Show in its infancy, NBC has decided to react to their terrible difficulties in prime-time by making a change in their long-established late night schedule.

Last Thursday, NBC executives told me they intended to move the Tonight Show to 12:05 to accommodate the Jay Leno Show at 11:35.  For 60 years the Tonight Show has aired immediately following the late local news.  I sincerely believe that delaying the Tonight Show into the next day to accommodate another comedy program will seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting.  The Tonight Show at 12:05 simply isn’t the Tonight Show.  Also, if I accept this move I will be knocking the Late Night show, which I inherited from David Letterman and passed on to Jimmy Fallon, out of its long-held time slot.  That would hurt the other NBC franchise that I love, and it would be unfair to Jimmy.

So it has come to this:  I cannot express in words how much I enjoy hosting this program and what an enormous personal disappointment it is for me to consider losing it.  My staff and I have worked unbelievably hard and we are very proud of our contribution to the legacy of The Tonight Show. But I cannot participate in what I honestly believe is its destruction.  Some people will make the argument that with DVRs and the Internet a time slot doesn’t matter.  But with the Tonight Show, I believe nothing could matter more.

There has been speculation about my going to another network but, to set the record straight, I currently have no other offer and honestly have no idea what happens next.  My hope is that NBC and I can resolve this quickly so that my staff, crew, and I can do a show we can be proud of, for a company that values our work.

Have a great day and, for the record, I am truly sorry about my hair; it’s always been that way.

Yours,

Conan


Guest Blog: It Depends On What You Mean By “Transparency”

January 8, 2010

As a business ethics speaker, I, from time to time, am pleased to have guest blogs featured on my site.  Ethics, by definition, are actions whose motivation is based on ideas of right and wrong.  In politics we hear, when someone is seeking election, a litany of ideas who have a fundamental ethics base.  Yet, when push comes to shove, it seems that ethics flies out the window and the politician is face with reality of accomplishing their agenda or operating ethically.  Guest blogger – Rick Krug – shares this in his piece entitled:  IT DEPENDS ON WHAT YOU MEAN BY “TRANSPARENCY” featured below:

As the Obama Administration continues to “duck and cover” over the attempted Christmas Day Boxer Bomber, it now finds itself searching for that Cloak of Invisibility regarding the health care debate. Having successfully locked out any Republican opposition by sheer numbers alone, the White House and both chambers of Congress have decided to have “informal” discussions on just how to craft the final health care overhaul. Now, when you read “informal”; this word is roughly translated “secret.”

For months before the 2008 election, candidate Obama was demanding the entire health care debate would be broadcast over C-Span, the cable station dedicated to all things US Government. By now, we have all seen the 8-10 video clips of Obama making this same promise to various rallies across America. When Nancy Pelosi was chosen as Speaker of the House in 2006, she stated, “This will be the most open and transparent government in history.”

Today, on CNN, John Cafferty essentially called Obama and the Democratic leadership liars as he pointed out the American public would not get to see the final outcome of the health care takeover until the secret meetings were over. In case you missed it, read the first sentence of this paragraph again: I said CNN made that charge – I know, you were thinking I said Fox News, right?

In fact, what was supposed to be the crowning glory for Obama and certain to place his face on Mount Rushmore, is now becoming the unmasking of what seems to be nothing more than a Chicago-style thug politician. Seriously, when Obama said the whole heath care debate would be on C-Span, I thought to myself, “wow, how would MCCain ever top that!” For starters, he might have simply kept his word. Is it just me, or does anyone else think the White House and Congress simply don’t care what Americans think….about anything?

So, just what am I missing about the word “Transparency?” I swear I thought it had something to do with being able to witness things in real time. Silly me.

I suppose I should have been suspicious when the 500 page starter yeast of the health care bill bloomed into a 1000 page bill, which, it seems, all those who were to vote on this thing admitted they had not even read. There probably should have been a couple of alarms going off in my head when the Senate version of this takeover sterioded out to over 2000 pages and nearly a trillion dollars. But it took this latest failure of truth to really get my attention. To be sure, there will be enough pork in the final healthcare package to make even Oscar Meyer jealous. But I can guarantee that there will be no Senator nor House member who will have ever read the final version.

We all know that health care is the main focus to the Obama agenda, while, it seems, national security is a minor annoyance, but come on, what in the world does the Pelosi, Reid, Obama product have to hide? Look, when you have a network who, second only to NBC, was as much as throwing palm branches down while the Messiah rode in on the back of Biden, begin questioning the integrity of the man’s promises, now you have a news story. To be fair, CNN could use a boost in the ratings, but Cafferty was no happy camper. Nor should he be, nor should any American be.

We all know campaign promises are usually only hopeful suggestions – “Read my lips, no new taxes” – but this outright lie is in fact an outright lie. One legitimately wonders if Obama ever planned on telecasting anything on C-Span. Then Pelosi said, “This is the most open process ever…” with a straight face. So I ask again, do these folks care even a little about what the American people think? Are we that stupid to them? This issue has carried elitism even farther than Hollywood could imagine.

I suspect the real reason the final debate on the health care plan remains secret is summed up in one word: truth. The Obama administration, the leader of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House simply do not want America to know the truth. They want it secret and they do not care.

All the while, Democrat after Democrat is running for the tall grass – shifting their registration to an ‘R”, or somehow coming to the conclusion it is time to retire. I believe this is the first time I have seen the rats leave the ship before the ship even left the harbor.

YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME! Or to comment directly you can find Rick Krug on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/RickKrug


Business Ethics Training – “The Office” – What Not To Do!

October 20, 2008

Business ethics training!  Across the nation I can hear people saying, “Yea, those people on Wall Street and in Washington need a good dose of that.”  Or, more than likely, in many companies, I hear a big “yawn.”

People, especially now, are sensitive to the need for ethical action.  However, ethical belief and action does not generally mean a commitment to teaching ethics.  In fact, in a national survey, most companies (there are notable exceptions) do very little to teach and promote ethics.  So often, as a business ethics speaker, I hear people recite the statement, “There is no such thing as business ethics, only ethical people.”   Well, that statement is all fine and good, but the reality is – businesses do have a culture and if ethics are not a core value, then unethical behavior is likely.

So what’s this “what not to do” stuff?  Simple answer…but first you need to watch this episode of “The Office” on NBC.  A link is provided.

The Office – Business Ethics

So here’s the skinny:

(1) They have a Business Ethics seminar because “there’s been some misconduct at corporate.”  All too often I find that the business ethics speaker/trainer is called because there is already a problem.  Not that fixing a problem isn’t a good thing to do, but wouldn’t it be better to avoid the problem in the first place.

(2) As soon as the “seminar” started, there was doubt that the company had a true commitment to ethical behavior.  If you were to truly ask the rank and file of your company if they would keep a highly productive but unethical sales person, what do you think they would say?  Their answer might give you a clue as to whether there is a culture of ethics (or right choices) within your company.

(3) How exciting – they first review the survey results.  Now, honestly, how often do you feel that company employees truly express their feelings or opinions on a company survey.  More times than not when I am consulting with a company I find that employees distrust the company and are more apt to tell then (the company) what they think they want to hear.

(4) The training centers around office supplies, excessive breaks, and other issues that do not, in my opinion, get to the heart of an ethics culture.  Banks making loans to people who could ill afford to make the payments is unethical – the heck with the paperclips.

Now…from here I move away from the show – although quite amusing.

When you look up the word “ethics” the following is the first definition:  the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation.  All too often ethics training deals with the “good and bad” and ignors the larger question of moral duty and obligation.  Developing an ethical culture is centered around creating a moral duty and obligation – taking actions that are in line with that duty.

EXAMPLE:  The other day I heard a well known economist say that the actions taken over the past seven years were logical and appropriate.  I could not disagree more.  It was unethical for financial institutions to loan money to people when there had reason to believe that they may not be able to repay the debt.  These financial institutions ignored their “moral duty and obligation” in the name of short-term quarterly profits.  For a time they were rewarded by Wall Street…but as we have seen – all of that value has diminished.  The lack of an ethical foundation in their business decisions provide short-term gain and huge long term loss.  They made choices that lacked fundamental ethics.

I guess in the end…you need to determine if the definition fits your company.  If you need something better than what the folks in “The Office” elected…give me a call.

Otherwise in the words of “The Office” – “What’s right, what is wrong, who’s to say in the end…because it is unknowable!”