Leno to Oprah: 'This whole thing was a huge mess'

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Uh ... duh?

Details are emerging about Jay Leno's salvation-seeking chat with Oprah, which airs Thursday (9 a.m. in Chicago on WLS-Channel 7).

First, he describes NBC's recent switcheroo -- canceling his primetime show, yanking Conan O'Brien from "The Tonight Show" and reinstalling Leno there -- as "a huge mess." That's the only quote from Jay shown in this teaser ad from Harpo.

Oprah is also seen asking Jay whether he ever considered he was just being selfish. Cut to a shot of Jay looking pained. (Who knows if that's fancy editing or an actual reaction shot.)

Then, AP reports that Leno tells Oprah he hasn't even spoken to Conan throughout this whole mess. "It didn't seem appropriate" to do so, he says, but the two might talk later: "I don't know. I think it -- let things cool down and maybe we'll talk, you know."

(At least he didn't call Conan "a gentleman" again ...)

Leno adds that he didn't take the jokes against him personally: "They were jokes. And that's OK," he says in this report of the show. "It's what we do, you know? You can't -- it's like being a fighter and say when you got punched in the head, did it hurt? Well, yeah. But you're a fighter. That's what you do."

Leno is scheduled to return to "Tonight" on March 1.

Harpo has made an offer for Conan to appear on Oprah's show, but it hasn't been confirmed. He's allegedly forbidden to give interviews for several months under the terms of his severance from NBC.

Apropos of maybe nothing: Here's a snippet of video from mid-2009 in which Jay and Oprah chat about who Jay would take with him to a desert island: Conan or Letterman. And he picks ...

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10 Comments

Phil Smith Jr
You hit the nail right on the head. The only way to keep a job on tv is to bring in the numbers. You have to be good or any network will let you go.
Perhaps Conan thinks he works for the government. that's the only place that I could think of that regardless of how bad you are, we're stuck with you.

Who in the world runs a business knowing they're loosing money. Conan was a late night guy. if you were watching his show it is because your an insomniac, not because it was good.
Ratings went down on both shows, they had to do something. How many shows stay on the air that have bad ratings?
Conan is OK. I would tune him in if I couldn't sleep, but he's no Jay. When NBC made the change, I like most people quit watching.
Jay is going to be fine on his return. Conan is going to do better than he ever has because of this situation. More people know Conan now than ever before. I wish them both the best. I know that when Jay gets his show back, me and millions like me will be sitting in front of the tv watching.
Papo3rd

Who in the world runs a business knowing they're loosing money. Conan was a late night guy. if you were watching his show it is because your an insomniac, not because it was good.
Ratings went down on both shows, they had to do something. How many shows stay on the air that have bad ratings?
Conan is OK. I would tune him in if I couldn't sleep, but he's no Jay. When NBC made the change, I like most people quit watching.
Jay is going to be fine on his return. Conan is going to do better than he ever has because of this situation. More people know Conan now than ever before. I wish them both the best. I know that when Jay gets his show back, me and millions like me will be sitting in front of the tv watching.
Papo3rd

JAY WAS IN A NO WIN SITUATION, HE WOULD HAVE LOST MORE MONEY THAN CONAN COULD EVER DREAM ABOUT, THE BOTTOMLINE IS JAY WANTS TO STILL BE ON TELEVISION AND NBC WON'T SAY TO JAY, WE DON'T WANT YOU, THEY LOVE THE GUY, CONANA DIDN'T UNDERSTAND WHAT WAS AT STAKE, HE PANICKED AND NOW HE IS OFF THE AIR FOR SEVEN MONTHS, FOX WILL PICK HIM UP, BUT THEY WILL ALSO DUMP HIM, IF HE DOESN'T BRING IN THE NUMBERS, AT FIRST HE WILL THEN HE WILL GO POOF INTO THE NIGHT FOR EVER!

Why is this a news story? Is there nothing else to report on? Ugh.

It's all about money anyway. I will definitely miss Conan and will follow his show where he goes, but I won't lose sight of the fact that he got a huge amount of money to leave. That being said NBC obviously is only looking at the bottom line... money. And I think Leno is doing it for pride and money. I don't think anyone is coming out of this looking good. They are all money hungry.

Horrible Ratings Doomed The Terribly UNFUNNY Carrot Top...In the same time slot, Leno kicked ass, including Letterman's...It's not difficult to connect the dots. If carrot top bows one more time, I'll become naucious...

The HELL with Leno, he steals people's bit's and claims they are his. Just ask Howard Stern about that. The cat's out of the bag. NBC killed two birds with one stone. Hey I was wondering why did Jay have to go on before Conan, why didn't they just put Leno after him?? Just a thought!

Unfortunately for Mr. Leno and his bosses at NBC, this story just won't go away. And their endless explanations don't seem to help much, either.

For any Sun Times readers too young to recall - or maybe just not interested in late night TV history - it might help your perspective on the current Leno vs O'Brien mess to read some background on the original Leno vs Letterman feud. Here's the full story of how Jay Leno took over the 'The Tonight Show' hosting gig from long-time host Johnny Carson, way back in 1993.
.
http://bit.ly/6FjAQq (complete article - NY Times; 1994)

I hope Oprah is fair, and grills him with the questions the people would like to hear. Jay is a greedy, selfish, glory hog. He STOLE Conan's dream. NBC didn't. JAY did.

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This page contains a single entry by Thomas Conner published on January 27, 2010 2:58 PM.

Martha! Another daytime host moves to cable was the previous entry in this blog.

Leno to Oprah: It's egotistical not to go back is the next entry in this blog.

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