Jay Leno tells his side of the story
The drama among Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien and NBC has dominated entertainment news programs during the past month. Now, Leno tells his side of the story. The Associated Press story is posted below via NewsOK.
BY LYNN ELBER, ASSOCIATED PRESS
Jay Leno turned serious on his show to discuss the late-night chaos at NBC, telling viewers that he’d been doubtful about launching a prime-time show but was prevented by NBC from going to another network instead.
Last week, after NBC announced plans to move “The Jay Leno Show” to 10:35 p.m. and bump “The Tonight Show With Conan O’Brien” to…
Leno, in explaining events from his standpoint, also said Monday that he had told NBC he’d return to the “Tonight” slot only after Conan O’Brien rejected the network’s plan to put both men on in late night.
NBC continued negotiations Monday on an exit deal with O’Brien that would clear the way for Leno to reclaim the 11:35 p.m. EST slot occupied by “Tonight,” which he hosted for 17 years before turning it over to O’Brien last spring.
The network is ending its prime-time experiment, “The Jay Leno Show,” because of low ratings and affiliate station complaints. When NBC told him they wanted to end his new show, Leno told viewers Monday, he asked to be released from his contract.
“‘No, you’re still a valuable asset to this company,”‘ he said the network told him. His reply: “How valuable can I be? You fired me twice.”
That was a reference to NBC’s decision six years ago to ask him to eventually make way for O’Brien to take over “Tonight,” which Leno kept atop the ratings until he left.
He and O’Brien have traded increasingly edgy monologue jokes as NBC tries to extricate itself from its scheduling mess, but Leno told viewers his attitude toward his colleague is unchanged.
“Through all of this, Conan O’Brien has been a gentleman. He’s a good guy, I have no animosity toward him. This is all business,” Leno said. “You know, folks, if you don’t get the ratings, they take you off the air.”
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