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Conan O'Brien: Legally Prohibited From Being Funny at the Emmys?

Conan O'Brien Michael Caulfield/WireImage.com

The nation's eyes are typically trained on what Hollywood's ladies choose to bedeck themselves in for their stroll down the red carpet. But come Emmy night, the real standout accessory will be donned by none other than CoCo himself.

A muzzle.

Those pulling for nominee and sentimental favorite Conan O'Brien to bring home at least one Emmy come Sunday night just to hear him let loose in his acceptance speech may be a bit disappointed.

Jay Leno and a band of NBC execs, on the other hand, will no doubt be relieved.

Turns out the Conan-shackling legally prohibited from being funny on TV tour has one last leg in it. As was widely reported, O'Brien's settlement with the Tonight Show network prevents him from making negative comments about his time there.

The settlement is good through Sept. 1—four days after the Emmy ceremony.

Damn that Academy and its overly early scheduling. (If they were really serious about increasing the telecast's ratings, surely they would have known what to do…)

However, while the victory would nonetheless be a sweet one as it would mark the first time O'Brien will be in the same room as his former bosses let alone rubbing their faces in their populist-displeasing switcheroo, Conan's funnybone may be chipped, but it's not broken completely.

Conan's settlement, as the Hollywood Reporter points out, only prevents the TBS-bound host from making "false" statements about the network that a reasonable person would find to be "insulting or defamatory." But a true statement that also maybe happened to bruise the ego a bit? Totally fair game.

However, turnabout is fair play and Conan should know that the disparagement clause works both ways—after Sept. 1, the NBC execs can say whatever they like about him, too, so he may not want to go full Sean Penn on them.

Of course, Conan has already proven himself to be quite the class act, so it's unlikely he'd take his Emmy-winning speech (fingers crossed!) to the point of litigation. But it sure will be fun watching just to make sure.

Maybe those Emmy ratings raisers knew what they were doing after all.

E! Online is your awards show HQ! Check out all of our Emmy coverage and count down to the big day with a look at our 10 Years of Winners gallery!

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