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Conan O’Brien: ‘I Won’t Be Denied My Masturbating Bear!’

by  in TV News Comment

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Conan O’Brien says he plans to bring the Masturbating Bear with him to TBS, despite the possibility of an NBC lawsuit over intellectual-property rights.

“If there’s something we did for a long time that we’ve established as ours, we’ll figure out a way to do it,” the New York Post quotes O’Brien as saying in the magazine’s Nov. 11 issue. “I won’t be denied my Masturbating Bear! […] What I really wanna do is be sued over the bear and then appear in court with the Masturbating Bear. ‘Your Honor, this bear can’t help himself!’ ”

It seems unlikely that O’Brien, or the Masturbating Bear, will be pulled into court. Earlier this week, NBC Universal TV Entertainment Chairman Jeff Gaspin said the network “wishes Conan well,” and is ready to move past The Tonight Show debacle. Gaspin pointed out that NBC already granted O’Brien permission to use Triumph the Insult Comic Dog during his 30-city “Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour.”

Granted, there is precedent for NBC digging in its heels over recurring characters and segment: When David Letterman left the network in 1993, he had to change the title of the “Viewer Mail” feature to “CBS Mailbag,” and the late comedian Calvert DeForest was forced stop using the name of his character Larry “Bud” Melman.

Conan premieres Nov. 8 on TBS. The new issue of Rolling Stone goes on sale Friday. Until then you can read excerpts, and watch a video from the photo shoot, at the magazine’s website.