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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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46.

Butterfly    

NOW THAT JAY LENO HAS EXPLAINED HIS SIDE OF THE STORY, at least you Leno haters can humble yourselves and admit Jay is a genuine and decent man who does not deliberately set out to hurt of trash anyone. I think Jay and Conan should turn the tables on the instigators, shake hands and become friends, again. It could happen if they come out of the sandbox and, "play nice." If one of them refuses, at least we will know who the better person, is. I am pulling for, both!

1705 days ago
47.

magnolia-lee    

JAY IS A GENTLEMAN. ALWAYS HAS BEEN. LOVE CONAN TOO BUT IT'S NOT JAY'S FAULT.

1705 days ago
48.

JLS    

This is how stupid Jay Leno IS! None of of blame Conan-how could we? He's the victim here. We blame NBC for wanting to replace him so soon AND Jay Leno for seizing the opportunity to return so easy. This man is an egotistical moron. He just figured out that Conan is looking like a hero and he isn't - good PR move, Jay.

1705 days ago
49.

JLS    

Jay needs to retire. He comes off as snide, ego driven, and he's NOT FUNNY anymore. The first night he returns he will get good ratings. After that, Dave will slaughter him. Then what is NBC gonna do??????

1705 days ago
50.

UGGGGHHH    

Not Jays fault for being so popular.

I would NEVER SIGN ANY PETITION JADAJACKASS. AND neither would anybody else.

FOX , WAKE UP IF YOU ARE THINK OF HIRING OBRIEN.
FOX WOULD ALSO GO DOWN THE TUBES........AND LOSE MILLIONS.

LMAO

1705 days ago
51.

Tyson    

What a gentleman make Connan look like more of d-ck

1705 days ago
52.

tom    

Definitely agree with the earlier post to respect that Jay did not bring himself down to the level of public personal insults. I have always watched both Jay and Conan. I have lost a lot of respect by Conan's jabs. I now believe he's not the easy going guy many fans think. He is definitely a brilliant and calculating comedy writer though another side of him has shown through - his professional jealosy and ambition to be only in the top spot (hence jay's comment not to blame him for saying no to 12:05 which some do). As for Jay turning down the half hour new show when offered i think many posters would be hypocrites to say no if it happed to them.

1705 days ago
53.

Mike    

Let me see if I understand..Zucker comes to Leno and says we want you to RETIRE and give the show to COCO and we will take care of you. So, LENO says sure...I like COCO and I want to be a TEAM player. Then he gets screwed out of his job and the promise of 2 years. So, NBC says COCO we need you to move to midnight so we can take care of LENO who took care of you. COCO says go F&*k yourself. Ratings means money for the network and that is the way it is. So LENO is the bad guy?

1705 days ago
54.

craig    

No mater what Jay says it will go out one ear and out the other.

1705 days ago
55.

Taz    

Jivin Jay , I knew a Jay he was full of it,

1705 days ago
56.

Ruby    

?? Zucker had Conan arrested when they were at Harvard... Wouldn't exactly call that buddy-buddy. Look up the story. Zucker was a douche with a stick up his a$$ then too.

1705 days ago
57.

Kit    

Yeah...neither of them were getting the ratings.
YOU, because your an EPIC FAIL on your own damn show, and Conan,
because...
YOU WERE AN EPIC FAIL ON YOUR OWN SHOW.

Conan's viewers everywhere "thank" you for that you cro magnon faced flacid unfunny as all hell motorhead.

1705 days ago
58.

V    

Leno seems to habitually use selective recall doesn't he? Isn't it convenient he only picks the bits and pieces and spins it all so he looks good? I am not so foolish.

1705 days ago
59.

CB    

@linda, you fit right in with Conan. Tactless, talentless and egotistical who think they are better than anyone else. You have shown your true colors by name calling. You and Conan are a perfect match.

1705 days ago
60.

srschrier    

An idea, how about Conan and Jay both leave NBC and work together ala Carson & McMahon to create an all new progressive comedy-variety show, maybe on Fox?

1705 days ago
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