Emmys: Conan O'Brien has to be careful what he says

conan-obrien-tour-320.jpgIf Conan O'Brien wins an Emmy on Sunday, during NBC's telecast of the awards, surely we're in for an all-time how-ya-like-me-now moment. Right?

Maybe -- but just as O'Brien starred in the Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television tour earlier this year, he may also give the Legally Prohibited from Tearing NBC a New One acceptance speech at the Emmys.

O'Brien, you may recall, was let go by NBC in January after less than a year as host of "The Tonight Show" -- but that show is one of the nominees for outstanding variety/music/comedy series at the Emmys. Members of Team Coco are fervently hoping that the show will win so O'Brien can accept his Emmy on NBC's air.

If that happens on Sunday's (Aug. 29) Emmy broadcast, though, O'Brien will still be bound by the terms of his severance agreement with NBC. As The Hollywood Reporter points out, it bars him from making "disparaging" comments about NBC, Jay Leno and the network execs who had a hand in his firing.

There's also a potentially comedy-saving "but" in the agreement, though: The legal language in the agreement defines "disparaging" as both "insulting and defamatory" and "false," according to THR -- so as long as O'Brien sticks to the truth (e.g., joking about NBC's meager ratings and the like), he's on solid legal ground.

The non-disparagement clause (which also applies to NBC) runs out on Sept. 1, three days after the Emmys and a couple of months before O'Brien debuts his new show on TBS. Once he's up and running on cable, he'll be free to mock the Peacock all he wants.

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