And, under the apparent terms of his , it will probably be his last chance to put down NBC, says Variety Television Editor Michael Schneider.
O'Brien's barbs at NBC's expense will continue "for one night only," Schneider says. "One night only. His finale is tonight. And after that, Conan probably goes into a cone of silence, as per his agreement with NBC. He's not allowed to go out there and disparage the network."
Thursday night, O'Brien even joked about not being able to joke about NBC anymore, saying, "(Under) some little known provisions (of his departure agreement), I'm not allowed to make fun of NBC programming: It has to speak for itself!"
O'Brien kidded that he knew his divorce from NBC was official "when they dropped off all my CDs and picked up their lava lamp."
O'Brien is comically vowing to spend every last dime NBC will give him. He said he's already laid out nearly $5 million network dollars hiring Kentucky Derby Winner Mine that Bird to wear a mink Snuggie.
Guest Robin Williams got in on the slicing-and-dicing act, telling O'Brien, "You've only been host for seven months, It's an annulment. Except you got screwed."
O'Brien will have other big-name guests as he says "So long" to "Tonight" Friday night: Tom Hanks, Neil Young and Will Ferrell -- his first guest as "Tonight" host last June.
The end of the primetime "Jay Leno Show" -- a ratings disaster whose failure started the machinations that led to Leno returning as "Tonight Show" host March 1 -- is being overshadowed by the spotlight on O'Brien, notes "Early Show" national correspondent Hattie Kauffman."
But Leno wouldn't be denied his comic shots at NBC, comparing it to California's dismal recent weather. "It's almost as gloomy outside NBC as it is INSIDE NBC," Leno said.
Leno himself has no reason to feel gloomy, Schneider points out, calling Leno "the big winner. At the end of the day, Jay Leno wanted to be back at 11:35, and Jay Leno is now going to be back at 11:35, hosting "The Tonight Show.' "