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Will next week be O’Brien’s last on ‘Tonight’?

There's an unconfirmed rumor going around that the show is looking to stock up on big guests for a final week, but staffers say that's not what they are hearing.
/ Source: msnbc.com

Will next week be Conan O’Brien’s last? ESPN columnist Bill Simmons tweeted earlier this morning, “FYI: Next week is Conan’s final week hosting the Tonight Show. His staff is trying to book big guests so he goes out with a bang. It’s true.”

A similar story on PEOPLE.com reported the same information, attributing it to "a source close to O'Brien."

If it’s true, it’s a closely guarded secret at the time of the writing. Several staffers on both Jay Leno and O’Brien’s shows seemed genuinely surprised by the latest rumor.

“That’s definitely not the plan as far as I’m aware,” said one Leno staffer, who declined to divulge just what plan, if any, was indeed in place. Reps for both shows declined to make on-the-record statements.

So, let’s say for the sake of argument that NBC brass has decided that the longer O’Brien is around to fan the flames, the worse the nightly network barbecue becomes, and his NBC ID will expire next week.

(Msnbc.com is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC.)

That leaves his big bookings, as they stand, Colin Firth on Jan. 18; Paul Bettany and Spoon on Jan. 19; Joss Stone on Jan. 20; and Barry Manilow on Jan. 21, according to a late-night television insider. Of that list, Firth is really the only one who could be considered a big get, and that really depends on whether he takes home a Golden Globe Sunday night.

On the other side of the rumor spectrum, Nikki Finke is reporting that NBC boss, Jeff Zucker, is threatening to keep O’Brien off the air for “3 1/2 years” if he doesn’t play ball with the network and agree to switch time slots.

Mackenzie Phillips feels ‘punished’ for tell-allAfter writing about her decade-long incestuous relationship with her father, John Phillips, in “High on Arrival,” Mackenzie Phillips is feeling abandoned and punished.

From David Letterman’s bizarre confession to Jon and Kate’s divorce to Tiger Woods’ spectacular crash.

“Maybe I am naïve,” Phillips told In Touch. “I thought people would think I was weird for writing this book, but I never thought they would say it was a lie. I never thought my family would abandon me.”

Four months after the book’s release, Phillips’ stepmother, Michelle Phillips, and her half-sister Bijou have reportedly cut off all ties with her. Michelle has accused Mackenzie of having a history of mental illness, a claim which both Mackenzie and Michelle’s daughter (and Mackenzie’s half-sister) Chynna have denied.

“This is what happens when incest survivors speak the truth,” Phillips said. “The victim is punished.”

Sandra Bullock still in custody battleSandra Bullock and her husband of four years, Jesse James, are still in the midst of a difficult custody dispute over James’ daughter 5-year-old, Sunny.

James has been fighting for full custody, claiming that Sunny’s biological mom, adult-film actress Janine Lindemulder, is unfit. Most recently, Lindemulder was supposed to pick up Sunny on Dec. 24 — a visit Lindemulder fought for in court — only to cancel at the last minute.

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“Janine phoned Jesse and told him to keep Sunny,” a person familiar with the situation told Life & Style. “The reason is unclear, but she couldn’t care for Sunny. Jesse wouldn’t have kept his daughter without her mother’s consent.” The magazine reports that the situation is “taking a toll on Sandra and Jesse.”

Golden Globes with Scoop
Check back with msnbc.com over the weekend for updates on the pre-awards activities. And want to know my take on the awards as they’re doled out? Follow me at Courtneyatmsnbc on Twitter.

Weekend box officeCould this be the weekend that “Avatar” finally gets knocked off its No. 1 perch?

Denzel Washington’s post-apocalyptic “The Book of Eli” is best poised to do so: It opens wide on more than 3,000 screens, and Washington has a broad appeal.

Washington is a pretty consistent box-office performer. His films usually open right around the $30 million mark — but that won’t be good enough to pick off “Avatar.”

The other weekend releases are “The Spy Next Door,” the Jackie Chan/Billy Ray Cyrus/George Lopez action comedy, and the wide release of “The Lovely Bones.”

Courtney Hazlett delivers the Scoop Monday through Friday on msnbc.com. Follow Scoop on Twitter @courtneyatmsnbc