"The Tonight Show" host Jay Leno is reportedly in the doghouse with NBC’s top entertainment executive. Writing in The New York Times’ Media Decoder, Bill Carter reports that Leno got himself in trouble with Robert Greenblatt by making jokes about the network.
Greenblatt reportedly took offense to monologue jokes Leno made last month after news reports appeared about NBC’s ratings slide and its fifth-place finish in the February sweeps.
Leno joked: "We are behind the Spanish-language network Univision — or as we call it here in Los Angeles: Cinco de Ratings.”
His follow-up jokes included: “It’s so bad ‘The Biggest Loser’ isn’t just a TV show anymore, it’s our new motto.” And: “It’s so bad, NBC called Manti Te’o and asked him to bring in some imaginary viewers.”
Greenblatt sent an e-mail to Leno complaining about the jokes, leading to "an exchange of pointed e-mails between Mr. Leno and Mr. Greenblatt," the report notes.
Carter adds: "One of the executives who saw the exchange said that Mr. Leno was taken by surprise by Mr. Greenblatt’s comments and strongly defended himself, citing the fact that late-night stars poking fun ‘at their masters,’ as the executive said, is in the long tradition of late-night comedy. Every late-night star, going back at least as far as Johnny Carson, has taken shots at network fortunes within the nightly monologue.
"This moment of conflict between Mr. Leno and NBC’s management preceded recent reports — denied categorically by NBC executives — that the network was preparing to make a change, moving out Mr. Leno and bringing in Jimmy Fallon, the star of its 12:35 program ‘Late Night.’”