The Tonight Show cuts staff; Leno trims pay

Associated Press Modified: August 18, 2012 at 5:47 pm •  Published: August 18, 2012
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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — "The Tonight Show" has laid off about two dozen workers, prompting host Jay Leno to accept a pay cut to spare other staffers as NBC clamps down on expenses.

NBC Universal imposed the cutbacks Friday, according to a person familiar with the moves. The person asked not to be identified because NBC Universal hadn't officially disclosed the cost cutting.

The payroll purge affected about 10 percent of the roughly 200 people who work on "The Tonight Show," still the top-rated late-night program. Viewers shouldn't notice any changes in programming at "The Tonight Show," the person said.

NBC Universal is trying to improve its financial performance under the ownership of Comcast Corp., which bought the entertainment company last year.

Leno had been making between $25 million to $30 million annually as the host of "The Tonight Show." His salary will be reduced to about $20 million after making the job-saving concessions. Leno also brings in substantial income touring as a stand-up comedian.

"Jay's foremost concern is for the wonderful people who work with him at 'The Tonight Show,'" said Bruce Bobbins, a spokesman for Leno. "He did what was necessary to ensure their well-being."

Several other staffers on "The Tonight Show" also absorbed pay cuts.

David Letterman, the host of a rival late-night show on CBS, accepted a significant pay cut in 2009.

The show's cost-cutting measures were first reported by Deadline Hollywood, a website that tracks the entertainment industry.

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