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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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31.

Just_Saying    

When they announced that Conan would get the Tonight Show in a few years, I knew Conan would fail. I've never been able to stand most of Conan's juvenile humor (i.e., the nasty bear and dog), and his childish giggling.

NBC should not have dumped Conan in the manner it did, however. They contracted with Conan because they didn't want to compete with him, and then violated the contract. NBC is the "bad guy" in this situation.
.

1741 days ago
32.

MrCrackers    

Blame Jay :)

1741 days ago
33.

hunsister    

Horrible, horrible man.

1741 days ago
34.

UGGGGHHH    

JAY LENO will ALWAYS BE #1.

CONAN WITH THAT STUPID HAIRDO. HE LOOKS OLD.............

NBC I am soooooooooooooooooooooooooo proud of you for getting rid of that NON FUNNY IDIOT.

LET CONAN RUN HIS MOUTH SO YOU CAN GET YOUR MONEY BACK. LET CONAN GO COLLECT CANS.

FOR ALL YOU LENO HATERS, GFY

1741 days ago
35.

catepelose    

Sly little rat!

It's a shame false humility doesn't make you funny or more likable. :)

1741 days ago
36.

PaddyBoyy    

Jay, you shoulda just said NO.
NO to the prime time show and
NO to going back to The Tonight Show.

Conan deserved more than 7 months and that shouldn't have been with you breathing down his neck.
You should have stepped back, WAAY back and let the chips fall where they may. THEN, you wouldn't be asplainin all this $h!t

Anyway, good luck with the "new" show.

(I wouldn't work for NBC even at gunpoint)

1741 days ago
37.

Cathy    

It's easy to now be gracious when you've won the battle.

1741 days ago
38.

JB    

Zucker had Conan arrested during their Harvard years when Coco pulled a prank on his newspaper.

1741 days ago
39.

Vincent    

yeah, we all need to get together and insist that zucker and his pals need to go... oh wait, i forgot, it's just tv and i have more important things to do with my life than get bent outta shape about crap that goes on everywhere. if only people were this dedicated to the health of our democracy.

1741 days ago
41.

shannon    

Hmmmm.... looks like Jay wants to win some people over now that everyone knows what a jerk he is. Sorry, Jay, the I'm-a-victim-he's-a-victim thing doesn't work for me. I don't buy it.

1741 days ago
42.

Wellington    

All this shows is that a lot of Conan fans can't admit they were wrong about Jay. That shows a real lack of maturity and character on their part.

Jay has raised the bar here. Let's see if Conan has the character and maturity to respond by apologizing to Jay. It was Conan's camp that started the mud slinging toward Jay.

What Jay said is all the more reason Zucker should be canned immediately. The man doesn't know his ass from a hole in the ground when it comes to making network decisions.

1741 days ago
43.

xoxo1001    

people really need to do some research before they comment. leno never said he was retiring from show business. he said he was retiring from the tonight show (just watch his 2004 clip...better yet, watch any of his clips re: retiring from tonight show) and hand it to conan, which he did. i don't see why team coco is so upset over this "he said he'd retire" thing.

1741 days ago
44.

Pat    

Who's blaming Conan? nice way to spin it Jay. Did NBC write that for you?...."here Jay read this statement tonight during your monologue we got to do some damage control..."

1741 days ago
45.

No longer watching NBC    

Wow. Talk about misdirection! : "Jay Leno: Don't Blame Conan."

It's Jay Leno that the whole world is blaming. Just go away Jay, you haven't been funny for years.
What do you have on the NBC executives that make them jump through these hoops to put you back on the air ? Shareholders of NBC should be outraged at the waste and mismanagement of NBC by Jeff Zucker. He should go away too!
General Saranoff is spinning in his grave. What a sad end for NBC to go down in flames.
Time for NBC to join the Dumont Network in the dustbin of Broadcast History.

NBC = Nightly Broadcasting Crap

1741 days ago
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