Leno Says He AND Conan ‘Got Screwed,’ Doesn’t Understand the Criticism From Moving Back to 11:30

Apr 1, 2010  •  Post A Comment

Talking with "View" co-host Joy Behar backstage at "The Tonight Show," Jay Leno said he expects ousted host Conan O’Brien to be back in the late-night fray to compete again, CNN reports. 

Behar asked Leno if he’s still upset about Conan O’Brien, prompting Leno to say that he feels he and Conan "got screwed." 

"This is TV. The reason how business pays a lot of money is, when you get screwed you have something left over," he said. 

"I don’t quite get why I get beat up over [the move from 10 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.]. I know people don’t really understand sort of how this business works. It’s all numbers. You know, the affiliates wanted us back, so we came back," he added. 


  1. Jay’s totally clueless if he really believes that he doesn’t “quite get why I get beat up over the move from 10 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. I know people don’t really understand sort of how this business works.”
    Well Jay, we get how the business works, and maybe your condescending attitude is contributing to the backlash. That and the fact that when YOUR show failed (yes Jay…YOUR 10 p.m. show FAILED!) you should have graciously bowed out and moved on. You had the fame and you had the money to try something new. It was your EGO that made you listen to the NBC corporate pricks, and steal Conan’s job back away from him, after he had rightfully earned it. Jay your ego is almost as big as your head, and that is why there is a backlash. Ratings or not, your public image has been tarnished and you will NEVER be seen in the same light again, sorry…(for you!)

  2. Jay’s show was failing because his audience wasn’t going with him to the primetime slot. The trouble is they weren’t staying for Conan’s late night slot, either.
    Had Conan pulled the numbers, Jay would have been out. I wonder how many of people crying for “poor” Conan would be expressing any sympathy for”poor” Jay if it had gone down that way?
    Conan’s a funny guy and knows this business he’s in. I have no doubt he’ll be back. Will he crush Jay and Dave? Probably not, but if he’s left alone to do his thing the way he wasn’t (and never would have been) on Tonight, he’ll draw his audience and stand toe to toe with them.
    The way some people have been carrying on, you would think Jay Leno runs NBC. I guess they need someone to blame.
    Jay had no obligation to “bow out and move on.” I don’t recall any hue and cry for Carson to bow out to make way for new blood. He left when he wanted and wasn’t forced out like Jay and Conan.
    NBC hedged their bets by keeping Jay around, and (by keeping Jay around) they were trying to have their cake and eat it, too. Jay didn’t engineer this late night train wreck. It was strictly NBC’s doing.
    Also, in all probability, NBC didn’t want another Carson to deal with. Which is probably why NBC went with Jay over Dave.
    I doubt Dave would have stepped aside for Conan, let alone have signed a contract (like Jay did) agreeing to do so years before it was to have occurred.
    Jay’s getting beat up over this because lots of people just won’t accept the basic facts of the situation. They’re irrational.
    And the reason Jay doesn’t “get it” is because it’s difficult for rational minds to “get” the irrational. I suppose not “getting” the irrational could be a definition of clueless.

  3. Lou Dobbs,
    The only place where there is backlash is in the insider Hollywood circles. Accross the country (and in my market), Leno is back to beating Letterman again just like before his move to primetime.
    Actually, Jay is right in saying that people don’t know how business works. If they did, then they would understand that the reason why Conan is no longer at NBC is because his ratings were not good.
    Get a clue.

  4. And to John,
    I agree with a majority of your post, except for the fact that you stated that “Jay’s show was failing because his audience wasn’t going with him to the primetime slot”. This isn’t true. Jay’s primetime ratings were almost dead-on with his Tonight Show ratings. The problem? A good Late Fringe rating is still a bad primetime rating.

  5. I totally agree with John. I am so glad someone else besides me “gets it”.
    And Joe, the primetime Leno audience was not necessarily the late night Leno audience. The numbers may have been the same but the makeup of those numbers was probably not.

  6. That can’t be CNN’s Lou Dobbs. There’s no picture of him. Television cuties ALWAYS provide head shots.
    Look. Leno hasn’t the equipment to wear well. He couldn’t possibly have lasted anywhere near as long as Carson did. Leno-Fatigue had already set in among those of us who prefer unscripted interviews.
    Conan? Good writer, lousy comic. That’s it.
    Letterman still creates excitement. That’s it. Letterman was the smart choice, but the overpaid dimwit scaredycats at NBC hadn’t the guts to honor Carson’s wishes. Look what it got ’em.

  7. Good lord! Can’t this issue just disappear? Move on, Leno. Quit your whining.
    And I still think that Leno isn’t all that funny or clever. I guess his style of humor appeals to a larger audience than Conan’s does; you know… morons! LOL

  8. RenoMike, your statement is posed in a manner that makes NBC look like they made the wrong decision by choosing Jay over Dave all those years ago…I guess you didn’t notice that Jay topped Dave easily for the vast majority of the time they went head to head….I’m more of a Dave fan, than Jay, but NBC clearly made the right decision back then, and have also made the right decision between Jay and Conan…the wrong one was forcing Jay out of late night for Conan.

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