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

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.

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    Image: USA  Pro Golfer Tiger Woods Auto Wreckage Florida

    Celebrity scandals of 2009

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

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    Golfer needs new caddy

    Professional golfer Tiger Woods' damaged SUV is seen in a photograph released by the Florida Highway Patrol on Dec. 2. Woods was treated at a hospital after an early morning accident after Thanksgiving outside his Windermere, Fla., home.

    But the real pain would come in the days that followed as numerous women came forward with allegations that they had had affairs with Woods. He acknowledged "transgressions" and that he let his family down.

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    Difficult truth

    Mackenzie Phillips appears on the TODAY show on Thursday, Sept. 24, a day after dropping the bombshell that she’d had a long-term incestuous affair with her father, musician John Phillips. The former "One Day at a Time" actress was promoting a new book, "High on Arrival."

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    Late night confession

    "Late Show" host David Letterman acknowledged during the taping of his Oct. 1 show that he had sexual relationships with female members of his staff and that someone tried to extort $2 million from him over the affairs. Letterman mixed jokes into the confession to his audience about what he called a "bizarre experience."

    Robert J. Halderman, a producer for CBS' "48 Hours," was charged with attempted grand larceny.

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    Invasion of privacy

    Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick became the parents of twin girls born via surrogate mother in Martins Ferry, Ohio, on June 22. Two Ohio police chiefs were accused of breaking into the home of the surrogate and trying to sell photographs of her personal belongings to a freelance photographer. Martins Ferry Chief Barry Carpenter was found guilty of receiving stolen property, theft in office and tampering with evidence.

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    Finally caught

    Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski was arrested in Zurich, Switzerland, on Sept. 26 as authorities in Los Angeles sought justice in a decades-old sex case. Polanski fled the United States in 1977 before his sentencing for having unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl. As the year drew to a close, the filmmaker was under house arrest at his Swiss chalet and vowed to fight extradition to the U.S.

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    Scene stealer

    In the diss heard 'round the world, rapper Kanye West takes the microphone from country star Taylor Swift as she accepts the "Best Female Video" award during the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday, Sept. 13, in New York. West declared Beyonce, also nominated, should have won because her “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” was “one of the best videos of all time.” And ... cue weeks-long, Internet-fueled outrage.

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    Affair to remember

    Country star LeAnn Rimes, left, and actor Eddie Cibrian starred in the Lifetime movie "Northern Lights" and then starred in a tabloid scandal involving two broken marriages over the summer.

    The two denied initial reports that they had hooked up while making the movie but eventually went public. Rimes left her husband Dean Scheremet and Cibrian left his wife Brandi Glanville, with whom he has two children.

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  • Howard K. Stern Arraigned For Supplying Drugs To Anna Nicole Smith

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    Anna Nicole fallout

    Howard K. Stern, center, Anna Nicole Smith's longtime confidante, arrives for his arraignment at Los Angeles Criminal Courts on May 13.

    Stern and doctors Khristine Eroschevich and Sandeep Kapoor were accused of conspiring to furnish drugs to Smith, the one-time Playboy Playmate who died of a prescription medication overdose in February, 2007.

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    Rest in peace? Not so easy

    Michael Jackson's siblings and children are pictured at the singer's memorial service on July 7.

    While the singer's death on June 25 at age 50 was shocking and unexpected, there were dozens of angles that the tabloids seized on afterwards. From Jackson's reported money woes to the custody and parentage of his children to various family feuds and, of course, the medications the singer was taking, every angle of his life is being shaken out and discussed in the media.

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    No joking matter

    Susan Wynalek, right, of Coltsneck, N.J., her daughter Stephanie, center, and son Brett participate in a "Fire David Letterman" rally on June 16. The family was protesting Letterman's earlier joke about Palin attending a New York Yankees game, in which he suggested that Yankee slugger Alex Rodriguez impregnated Palin's daughter.

    Issues arose when Letterman said he was referring to 18-year-old teen mom Bristol Palin, but it was 14-year-old Willow Palin who actually attended the game with her mother.

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    Renewed vows didn't take

    Jon and Kate Gosselin, parents of twins and sextuplets and stars of TLC's "Jon & Kate Plus 8," renewed their vows in Hawaii in 2008. But by June 2009, the couple had announced plans to divorce, and Jon Gosselin was seen in Paris with a new girlfriend, daughter of the surgeon who performed Kate's tummy tuck.

    Eventually the one-time reality TV hit went off the air and the drama shifted to the courtroom as TLC and Jon Gosselin went after one another.

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    She dreamed a dream

    Locals gather at the community center in Blackburn, Scotland, to watch Susan Boyle during the finale of "Britain's Got Talent" on May 30.

    Boyle, 48, wowed the world when she came from nowhere and displayed stunning vocal talents when auditioning for the show. Once her name became known, her every step was hounded by photographers, and after she came in second to dance troupe Diversity on the show, Boyle received care at a private psychiatric clinic in London.

    The singer bounced back with the release of her wildly successful first album.

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    From the Oscars back to the slums

    "Slumdog Millionaire" child actor Rubina Ali, 9, waves as she is welcomed back to her home in suburban Mumbai, India, on Feb. 26, after traveling to the Academy Awards in Los Angeles.

    "Slumdog Millionaire" was the big winner at the Oscars, but following the ceremony, Ali and her fellow child stars returned to slum life. In April 2009, Ali's father denied reports that he tried to sell his daughter, claiming he was set up. In July 2009, Ali's co-star, Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, left the slums for a one-bedroom apartment. Filmmakers were reportedly looking for a new home for Ali as well.

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    Celebrities for no reason

    Famous for doing absolutely nothing, Heidi and Spencer Montag still managed to coax their way into numerous media stories in the first half of 2009.

    The couple came to public attention by appearing on the MTV show "The Hills," then for having a non-legally binding wedding in Mexico in 2008, followed by a second wedding in California in 2009. The newlyweds joined the cast of "I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here!" but repeatedly left and rejoined the cast while whining about their treatment, even reportedly calling NBC chairman Ben Silverman to complain about being "tortured" on the show.

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    The Passion of Mel

    Actor Mel Gibson infamously made anti-Semetic and sexual remarks when pulled over in 2006 for driving under the influence, later issuing apologies through his publicist. Gibson's Catholicism, which is strict and ultra-traditional, has also made news, especially relating to his film, "The Passion of the Christ," a gruesomely realistic depiction of the crucifixtion of Christ.

    Thus many who knew of Gibson's religious beliefs were shocked in April 2009, when it was announced that the actor was leaving his wife of 29 years and that his girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva, was pregnant with his child outside of marriage. She gave birth to their daughter on Oct. 30.

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    Madonna and child

    While actress Angelina Jolie's international adoptions have gone off relatively quietly, that's not always been the case for Madonna.

    In 2006, she adopted young David Banda from Malawi despite a law that requires adoptive parents to live in the country for one year, which Madonna had not done. Then, in 2009, the singer returned to Malawi to adopt a 3-year-old girl, Chifundo "Mercy" James. That adoption was first approved, then rejected due to the residency rule. The country's highest court later approved the adoption. James Kambewa has come forward and claimed to be the girl's father, but later admitted he has never met her.

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    'Bachelor' can't make up his mind

    Seattle single dad Jason Mesnick brought controversy to the 2009 season of "The Bachelor" by proposing to Melissa Rycroft, shown with him here on March 2. But as the two began to spend time together, Mesnick decided he should have passed on Rycroft and instead chosen her runner-up, Molly Malaney, shown in inset photo.

    On a shocking "After the Final Rose" special episode, Mesnick admitted his feelings and publicly dumped Rycroft. Rycroft later went on to almost win "Dancing With the Stars." Mesnick and Malaney are now engaged.

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    Phoenix rising?

    Actor Joaquin Phoenix, seen here in February, claimed in January that he was giving up acting to pursue a rap career. Partly because Phoenix is being filmed by pal Casey Affleck for a documentary, many didn't believe he was serious about music, saying instead that the supposed career change was all an elaborate hoax to make an interesting movie.

    Phoenix also drew attention in early 2009 for attacking a heckler at a Miami concert and for making a mostly incoherent appearance on the "Late Show with David Letterman."

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    Tale of the tape

    Christian Bale, star of "Terminator Salvation," blew up at the film's director of photography, Shane Hurlbut, in July 2008. Bale claimed that Hurlbut had walked into his line of sight twice and ruined his concentration, and betlitted and theatened Hurlbut in a lengthy, disturbing tirade that was caught on audiotape.

    The tape was released in February and Bale eventually apologized, saying he "acted like a punk."

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    Bloody battle

    Singer Chris Brown, top, reportedly beat and threatened girlfriend and fellow singer Rihanna, shown in court on Feb. 8. The two were riding in a car together the night before both were scheduled to perform at the Grammy Awards, and the resulting detailed arrest report and bloody photo of a beaten Rihanna immediately turned fans' stomachs.

    Brown was dropped from ad campaigns by numerous companies, and some music stations refused to play his music. He pled guilty to felony assault in June and has accepted a plea deal consisting of community service and five years probation. He later apologized for the assault in a YouTube video.

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“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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    Image: Premiere Of Twentieth Century Fox's "Let's Be Cops" - Red Carpet

    Celebrity Sightings

    Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr. on the "Let's Be Cops," red carpet, Selena Gomez is immortalized in wax and more.

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    Idris Elba

    Actor Idris Elba seen on the set of :A Hundred Streets" on Aug. 8 in London.

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    Elisabeth Moss, Mark Duplass

    Actors Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass arrive at the premiere of RADIUS-TWC's "The One I Love" at the Vista Theatre on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

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    Nick Kroll

    Actor Nick Kroll arrives at the premiere of RADIUS-TWC's "The One I Love" at the Vista Theatre on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

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    Damon Wayans Jr., Jake Johnson

    Actors Damon Wayans Jr. and Jake Johnson arrive at the premiere of "Let's Be Cops" at the Cinerama Dome on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

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    James D'Arcy

    James D'Arcy arrives at the premiere of "Let's Be Cops" at the Cinerama Dome on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

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    Julianne Hough

    Actress Julianne Hough arrives at the premiere of "Let's Be Cops" at the Cinerama Dome on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

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    Hannah Simone

    Actress Hannah Simone arrives at the premiere of "Let's Be Cops" at the Cinerama Dome on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

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    Nina Dobrev

    Actress Nina Dobrev arrives at the premiere of "Let's Be Cops" at the Cinerama Dome on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

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    Nicole Murphy, Brandy Norwood

    TV personality Nicole Murphy and singer Brandy Norwood attend The Pump Group VIP Cocktail Reception at W Hollywood on Aug. 7 in Hollywood.

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    Tara Reid

    Actress Tara Reid attends The Pump Group VIP Cocktail Reception at W Hollywood on Aug. 7 in Hollywood.

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    James Wirt, Julia Stiles

    Actors James Wirt and Julia Stiles stand on stage during the opening night curtain call for "Phoenix" at the Cherry Lane Theatre on Aug. 7 in New York.

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    AnnaSophia Robb

    Actress AnnaSophia Robb attends the opening night performance of "Phoenix" at the Cherry Lane Theatre on Aug. 7 in New York.

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    Selena Gomez

    A boy gives the wax figure of Selena Gomez a kiss at the unveiling of the new new, never-before-seen Selena Gomez wax figure at Madame Tussauds New York on Aug. 7 in New York.

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    Chris Martin

    Chris Martin of Coldplay performs during the Elvis Duran Z100 Morning Show at Z100 Studio on Aug. 7 in New York.

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    Michael Fassbender

    Actor Michael Fassbender attends "Meet the Actor" at Apple Store Soho on Aug. 7 in New York.

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    Mickey Rourke

    Actor Mickey Rourke is seen at "Jimmy Kimmel Live" on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

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    Jordana Brewster

    Actress Jordana Brewster waves outisde of "Jimmy Kimmel Live" on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

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    Keshia Knight Pulliam

    Actress Keshia Knight Pulliam attends G. Garvin Live at Buckhead Theatre on Aug. 7 in Atlanta.

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    Reese Witherspoon

    Actress Reese Witherspoon is seen on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

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    Miley Cyrus

    Singer Miley Cyrus performs in concert at Bridgestone Arena on Aug. 7 in Nashville.

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    Melanie Griffith

    Actress Melanie Griffith attends a press conference during the 67th Locarno Film Festival on Aug. 7 in Locarno, Switzerland.

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    Lily Allen

    Singer Lily Allen performs in concert at Bridgestone Arena on Aug. 7 in Nashville.

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    'Expendables 3'

    The stars of "Expendables 3," from left, Kellan Lutz, Jason Statham, Sylvester Stallone, Antonio Banderas and Wesley Snipes attend "Expendables 3" at Cinema UGC Normandie on Aug. 7 in Paris.

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    Robert Pattinson

    Actor Robert Pattinson speaks during the Meet The Filmmakers event for "The Rover" at Apple Store, Regent Street on Aug. 7 in London.

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    Nicole Kidman, Jason Bateman

    Actors Nicole Kidman and Jason Bateman are spotted filming Bateman's "The Family Fang" in Westchester, New York, on Aug. 7.

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    Akon

    Grammy-nominated artist Akon, who is the founder of Akon Lighting Africa Project, discusses at the US-Africa Leaders Summit "Africa: New Parnership Models for Growth" news conference, held in Washington, DC, on Aug. 7, the progress that African heads of state have made.

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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

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