Jay Leno — and His Wife Mavis — in ’60 Minutes’ Interview Say Leno Was Not the Bad Guy When NBC Gave Him Back the ‘Tonight’ Show After It Had Been Promised to Conan O’Brien

Jan 27, 2014  •  Post A Comment

Jay Leno, and his wife, Mavis, told "60 Minutes" last night, Sunday, Jan 26, 2014, that Leno was not the bad guy when he returned to host the "Tonight" show after it had been promised to Conan O’Brien. Here’s a transcript of that part of the interview:

Transcript furnished by "60 Minutes":


O’BRIEN FROM TONIGHT SHOW: Hosting the tonight show has been fulfillment of a life-long dream for me … . And I just want to say to the kids out there watching: You can do anything you want in life. Unless Jay Leno wants to do it too.

STEVE KROFT: You were the bad guy. You were portrayed as bein’ the bad guy.

JAY LENO: Yeah, I — I didn’t quite understand that. But I never chose to answer any of those things or make fun of any of the other people involved. It’s — it’s not my way And you just go and you be a comedian and you do what you do.

MAVIS LENO: I’m sorry. This is a subject I’m very, very angry about to this day.


MAVIS: It made me angry because there was this perception that for some reason Jay had decided to give up the show. It was like he gave the show to Conan and then he took it back. That was not what happened, OK? (LAUGH) That was not what happened.

KROFT: There were a lot of people that felt you should have just — a lotta people including Conan …

JAY: Yeah.

KROFT: … felt that you just sort of said — should have gone off to — to ABC or to Fox or to someplace else and not …

JAY: Well, you know something? NBC is my home. Don’t forget, back in 2004, I went into work one day and, hey, you lost your show. What? So suddenly it was taken from me, and then they said, "We want to give it back to you." I said, "Fine."

conan and leno.pngConan O’Brien and Jay Leno in happier days


  1. Don’t you dare feel sorry for Jay Leno.

  2. Here is the bottom line. Conan O’Brien was given The Tonight Show, and he failed miserably. The late night audience by and large rejected him. But instead of taking responsibility, O’Brien tried to blame Leno for his failure. Pathetic. And O’Brien’s mediocre ratings on cable now, prove again that he never was talented enough for the big time.

  3. Totally agree. Conan’s fans should stop this already. He failed in that show. his monologues were not good enough. His antics too bizarre.

  4. Would have been better if Conan had replaced Letterman.

  5. Jay likes to say he was blind sided by Conan taking over the Tonight Show. He was told this was going to happen 5 years before it did so he knew it was coming. He should have said right then and there if you don’t want me I am going to ABC or Fox and you can give it to O’Brien now. But he didn’t and NBC tried to put him in prime time and he FAILED MISERABLY. The local stations news rating suffered as a result so don’t let Jay of with no blame here. It is interesting he never said any of this until they finally took it away from for good.

  6. I miss the days when we only thought about him as a joke teller, and not a Shakespearean character. What exactly is it that makes him seem shady when asked a straight question? http://tvruckus.com/2014/01/27/do-you-believe-jay-leno-after-60-minutes-interview/

  7. Jay Leno told NBC up front, that putting him and a variety show at 10pm would not work! That is documented that Jay said that. And the key point is, that O’Brien failed so miserably with The Tonight Show, that NBC had no choice except to ask Leno to come back, and try to re-capture NBC’s Tonight Show audience that O’Brien had driven away! What is so hard to understand about that??!! Bottom line, O’Brien couldn’t make it, with the Tonight Show.The audience rejected him.

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