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Jay Leno -- 'Don't Blame Conan'

1/18/2010 9:59 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF

Jay LenoJay Leno just finished his monologue tonight where he addressed the Conan O'Brien situation head-on, saying that in 2004 NBC didn't have faith Jay could remain #1 in the ratings.

Jay explained that NBC execs came to him five years ago and told him they wanted to give "The Tonight Show" to Conan because he was getting other offers. When Jay pointed out he was #1 in the ratings, Jay said the exec told him, "We don't think you can maintain that."

Leno said the network guaranteed him two years on the air. He said the network knew he'd get killed during the main TV season, but thought he'd excel against summer re-runs.

Jay said when the network approached him about doing a half-hour show at 11:35 PM, he was hesitant but said getting beat in the ratings humbled him.

He asked the network exec, "Do you think Conan will go for that?" The exec said yes.

Leno repeatedly complemented Conan, calling him a "gentleman" and saying, "Don't blame Conan O'Brien."

At the end of the day, Leno said, neither of them were delivering the ratings they should have been.

272 COMMENTS

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1.

Stella    

I have to laugh. Leno stabbs Conan on the back and now that Conan is out Leno does his good guy act again. Jerk.

1684 days ago
2.

Rocky    

Jay is being WAAAY too kind, Conan is a baby!! Here is a prime example of how he had totally betrayed his friend, Jay:

www.associatedcontent.com/article/2584495/conan_obrien_is_the_new_ungrateful.html?cat=2

1684 days ago
3.

Stella    

Leno the NBC whore is doing damage control.

1684 days ago
4.

Kip Cricket    

Leno has been piling on the lies and hypocrisy!

Too many are buying into NBC's PR machine which has every intention
of rewriting history!

Don't be swayed, check out the following link to read of Leno's
deceit:

http://www.therestrainingorder.com/?p=2250

1684 days ago
5.

Liz    

jay was given a significant amount of time to build a solid fan base at 11:35, and Conan should have been given the same opportunity. Jay is feeling the backlash. I'm sure there aren't many Leno fans who'd rally in the rain for him.

Go COCO!

1684 days ago
6.

CB    

Conan is coming across as a rich spoiled child who went to Harvard and probably always got his way. When all this started, Leno only attacked the network with jokes, O'Brien turned it personal and threw the first shot at Leno. Of course, Letterman loves it, since he hates Leno and this gives him a chance to throw out personal stabs. Letterman is a bitter old man. I have to give Leno kudo's for attempting to stay above the fray of personal name calling. I can't say the same for O'Brien, who I have lost all respect for. Leno worked hard for where he is, O'Brien not so much. He left Harvard as a writer, then went on to host a talk show. Everything has been handed to him. I'll bet he have 'never paid his dues'. Now we can see what he is like when he finally gets shut down.

After all that, I am still team Craig Ferguson!!!

1684 days ago
7.

Rocky    

1684 days ago
8.

Terry    

#14

How could he say anything last week. He was busy hetting attacked.

How dumb is the exec that said that Jay couldn't keep the ratings.

1684 days ago
9.

marco    

If he really means it, then he should just retire and step down. But once again, I cant say it enough, for both Conan's and Leno's side, Zucker needs to go!!!

1684 days ago
10.

Brian    

I think who ever wrote this meant to say "complimented" not "complemented".


Cheers!

1684 days ago
11.

BC    

I guess getting bad ratings and knowing that you're only popular with dumb middle-Americans with insomnia didn't humble Jayhole ENOUGH, because when they offered him the show back, he should have said no, I won't do something like that because it's not right. He always thinks about himself first, last and foremost, just like when he stole the show away from Letterman and stabbed Carson in the back. Go away Jayhole!

1684 days ago
12.

stamos    

"Don't Blame Conan." WHO'S BLAMING CONAN?? Apparently Jay doesn't read the news and his people are feeding him the wrong message.

1684 days ago
13.

Linda    

Hey CB..you are obviously very ignorant on Conan's History. Why don't you read on how Conan did pay his dues and he worked his way up like a solid hard-working guy..don't be mad at him cause he went to college and you obviously didn't.

1684 days ago
14.

Yeesh    

Um, "Don't blame, Conan"?

Jay, it's YOU and JEFF ZUCKER who are the bad guys here.

Get your head outta your chin.

1684 days ago
15.

Stella    

The greedy old man is doing what he can to get people to think he is a nice guy. What a jerk,

1684 days ago
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