Jay Leno The Tonight Show Exit Apologies to Jimmy Kimmel – Deadline
The late night drama involving Jay Leno is still being discussed.
Leno stopped by Bill Maher Club Random podcast and his old friend addressed the controversy surrounding his exit from The Tonight Show.
Leno left The Tonight Show in May 2009 and was replaced by Conan O’Brien, a deal that had been five years in the making, and Leno moved to the The Jay Leno Show.
However, neither show performed well in the ratings, and after much back and forth, O’Brien left and Leno returned The Tonight Show until 2014.
Leno spoke to Maher and said it was never his intention to “deliberately sabotage” The Tonight Show arranged by O’Brien, a charge which has been made. “It doesn’t work like that. You try to do the best you can, he said.
When asked why he stayed at NBC rather than move to another network, Leno said, “Sometimes the czar you have is better than the one you’re going to”. “Then you have your old team gunning for you too. I just figured let’s just play this out and see what happens. All this happened quite quickly, he added.
Another factor, however, was ABC and Jimmy Kimmel. In 2008, Leno discussed moving to ABC, something then-ABC Entertainment president Steve McPherson publicly admitted.
This would have meant pushing back Jimmy Kimmel Live! from midnight to 12:35.
Leno spoke to Kimmel, who was theoretically okay with the idea, trusting that he would get a better lead than Night line. However, Kimmel has said that Leno never called him back to tell him he was staying at ABC.
“I guess I should have called Jimmy and explained to him again, but I didn’t. I don’t know why I didn’t. I just didn’t. I thought he would probably figure it out. But I think maybe he was hurt by it and I apologized to him for that,” Leno added.
The You are betting on your life host added that he thought Kimmel was “really funny” and did a great job hosting the Oscars. “It’s just one of those difficult situations where he was a big Letterman guy and then Letterman didn’t get it The Tonight Show, somehow it was my fault. I think he resented it, and I understand that. But Dave never had The Tonight Show» he added.
Leno also addressed a changing world where late-night linear ratings are dramatically lower than when he was in the room.
“The toughest thing about late night now is the commercials. You know, you get used to streaming and watching Netflix and I’m like, ‘Let me see what the guys are doing.’ I’m like, ‘Another commercial?’ I mean, it’s a nine-minute break from 12:00 to 12:09 on almost all the shows. After 11:00 p.m. at night, you can add more commercials, so…” he said.