"Tonight Show" host Jay Leno took a "tremendous" pay cut to help save the jobs of employees at his show, but NBCUniversal still cut about 20 to 25 employees at the program, reports Deadline.com.
Producers on the show reportedly were forced to accept lower salaries or lose their jobs, while Leno agreed to the cut to "save as many people’s jobs as he could," the story notes.
"Jay’s foremost concern is for the wonderful people who work for ‘The Tonight Show.’ He did what was necessary to ensure their well-being," Leno’s spokesman said.
Reports differ on how much Leno earns and how much he will make after the cuts, but the L.A. Times reports that Leno currently makes between $25 million and $30 million for "The Tonight Show," and that one source is reporting his new salary will be closer to $20 million. Deadline notes that Leno reportedly brings in another $15 million to $20 million from personal appearances.
The staff reductions surprised some, given that "The Tonight Show" is the highest-rated late-night talk show — typically beating CBS rival “Late Show with David Letterman” by about 20% in total viewers with an average of 3.67 million, The New York Times reports.
The cuts appear to be the latest bit of cost-cutting at NBC as "the network continues to be a sore spot on Comcast’s balance sheet, with its ratings weakness again listed by Comcast as partially responsible for NBCUniversal’s soft financial performance during the most recent quarter," notes Nellie Andreeva in a separate Deadline.com article.
NBC may spend less on development this year, after last season’s "aggressive bidding," which caused the network to spend $40 million on scripts, the piece adds.
The company has been hit across the board with cuts that began in January, according to Deadline. NBC’s marketing and PR departments were hit by downsizing in February, and programming executives have also been cut, the story notes.