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Leno: 'Conan Got Screwed'

by Brad Trechak, posted Apr 1st 2010 10:11AM
Joy Behar from CNN's sister station HLN stopped backstage at the "what's old is new again" version of 'The Tonight Show with Jay Leno' and managed to snag an interview with Jay. Jay ended up stating how both he and Conan got screwed by the situation at NBC with 'The Tonight Show.' While there is a great deal of truth to his words, Jay is selectively editing history by leaving out his responsibility regarding Conan's tumultuous departure. Here's the video:

NBC made several attempts in the Second Late Night War to undermine Conan as the host of 'The Tonight Show,' including having 'The Jay Leno Show' as a lead-in. During all of this, Jay could have simply walked away and went somewhere else for another late-night job like David Letterman did ages ago, but he didn't. Whether his motivations were selfish or out of a sense of loyalty to NBC (or a combination of both) is dependent on the individual you ask.

Mind you, like all the high-priced hookers in the entertainment industry, Conan was well compensated for his shafting. However I don't think Conan enjoyed being treated like a sex puppet anywhere near as much as Jay did.

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Joyce N.

I'm also tired of hearing so often about evil Jay and Saint Conan here. TV Squad, give it a rest, PLEASE!

April 02 2010 at 4:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"NBC made several attempts in the Second Late Night War to undermine Conan as the host of 'The Tonight Show,' including having 'The Jay Leno Show' as a lead-in."

So that's why NBC scheduled this? Not anything more, um, obvious? And here I was thinking that they were looking at the bottom line or maybe actually considered the show a possible option over their massively failing prime time lineup.

Glad you straightened me out there Brad. Guess I don't look for those obscure ulterior motives.

As for the comments - I tend to agree. Leno played a part, this site really does bash Leno more than I wish, I don't watch him, etc. But mostly I'm really surprised at the lack of blame Conan gets in all this.

Sure, he played things out with a ton of class. And he also played a part - shock of all shocks - in the cratering ratings after he took over.

April 01 2010 at 8:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

@Jimmy - In the context of Leno's thinking, 10:00 is a demotion because he never wanted to move out of 11:35 in the first place.

April 01 2010 at 4:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't understand how people can say Jay Leno does not share some responsibility in this debacle. When NBC asked Jay Leno if he wanted his old job back at 11:35, a choice was given to Jay Leno. He could have refused, just like Letterman did before he went to CBS, but he chose to stay. This decision didn't just impact Jay Leno, it also impacted Conan O'Brien, Jimmy Fallon, and Carson Daly. Jay didn't get "fired twice". Jay was demoted to 10:00 and later chose to accept a promotion to 11:35, and in the process forced another person to make the wiser choice.

April 01 2010 at 3:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jane's comment

You've got it backwards. Being given an hour in primetime is a promotion, not the other way around.

Here's how it breaks down:

Jay moving from 11:30 to 10: Promotion
Conan moving from 12:30 to 11:30: Promotion
Jay moving back from 10 to 11:30: Demotion
Conan losing 11:30: Shit-canned

April 01 2010 at 3:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Scott K.

Can I like Leno even if I think he's mostly not funny? I did like Jaywalking and the Headlines, though those didn't require Jay to be funny (and not enough to watch more than 6 times a year...). I'll agree that he could have handled things differently, but this was NBC's fault, not Jay's. But he seems like a nice enough guy and he is a real big car guy, which is a positive. But while he was yanked around and certainly inconvenienced, Conan did get screwed (but they can screw me if they pay me even 1/10th of what Conan got).

On a side note, I find the reference calling Conan (and apparently everybody in the entertainment history) a 'high-priced hooker' a bit confusing (not to mention tacky). Admittedly he's paid well, but he pursued his dream career, was quite successfuk and was paid VERY well and gets a huge buy-out when he loses that job and that justifies comparing him to somebody who works in the sex industry how? Way to stay classy.

April 01 2010 at 1:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm getting pretty tired of the Leno bashing too. I don't watch the show and don't think he's funny, but Cinan pushed him out unwillingly, NBC didn't want to lose Leno or Conan and basically effed the whole thing up.

April 01 2010 at 12:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If my company pushes me out of a job I love to give to another guy and then pushes him out to give it back to me, what's my responsibility in it all? Conan had no qualms about pushing Leno out of his dream job and potentially putting Jay's staff out of work. Conan made a premature bid to take over the Tonight Show and it didn't work out for him. How is that Jay's fault? Why shouldn't he want the job he loved back? Conan came out of it all with millions of dollars and more favorable publicity than a billion dollars could buy.

April 01 2010 at 12:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Why are "you" selectively forgetting that Leno did want to go elsewhere, but NBC wouldn't let him go? Isn't that why we had a Jay Leno Show in the first place? After his tonight show gig ended Leno wanted to move elsewhere (ABC?) but NBC wouldn't let him go to a competitor.

April 01 2010 at 11:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
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