"The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" is suffering some major setbacks -- 20 staffers were just canned from the show and even the big man himself had to take a pay cut ... this according to reports.
The firing of staff members was a decision made by Comcast -- the company that owns NBC -- while they try to assess the value of their investment, says The Hollywood Reporter.
In light of the firings, it was reported that even Leno himself took a huge pay cut from his reported $30 million salary to try and save as many jobs as possible. Leno has said for years he banks his salary from NBC and lives off the money he makes from his busy personal appearance schedule.
"The Tonight Show" is consistently on top in the ratings, though its audience does tend to skew older.
4/27/2011 6:30 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Lindsay Lohan won the hearts and minds of 500 people Tuesday ... albeit not a jury of her peers -- thanks to a heartfelt mea culpa on Jay Leno's "The Tonight Show."
Lindsay got a standing ovation shortly before admitting no one but herself is to blame for the predicament that triggered a 120 day jail sentence.
After about 5 minutes, Jay and Lindsay did a bit of full disclosure ... revealing they have something -- actually someone -- in common.
at 'The Tonight Show'
6/1/2010 2:00 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
How's this for news ... Jay Leno is the victim! Law enforcement sources tell TMZ someone allegedly committed grand theft against "The Tonight Show."
Someone allegedly stole thousands of dollars of wardrobe at an office facility for the show. We're told the clothes were for the band. We're told band members were supposed to go to the facility -- in Hollywood -- for a fitting, but before they arrived someone noticed lots of stuff was missing.
A "Tonight Show" insider told us the threads were for the new band, fronted by Rickey Minor.
The LAPD is investigating. No word if it's an inside job. So far, no suspects.
Bandleader Pissed Over 'American Idol' Snub
5/27/2010 3:00 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
TMZ has learned ... one of the key players who made "American ldol" a success was so pissed last night after the show, he chewed out "A.I." producers backstage.
Rickey Minor -- who has been the bandleader for 6 seasons -- is leaving A.I. to head up Jay Leno's band on "The Tonight Show."
Minor was fit to be tied after no one thanked him or wished him well -- hell, they didn't even acknowledge him during last night's finale.
Our "A.I." spies tell us ... when the show was over Minor went off on producers, angrily telling them how insulted he was by their silent dis.
Minor refused to go backstage for the champagne afterparty. But producers pleaded with him and then got Randy Jackson to try and smooth it over with an unprepared speech.
Minor then said a few words but we're told, "You could cut the bitterness with a knife."
We're told Minor recanted and went to the afterparty -- but he was still fuming mad.
Another 'Idol' Player
Jumps Ship for Jay
5/27/2010 12:55 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Simon Cowell wasn't the only one who bid sayonara to "American Idol" last night.
Dorian Holley -- the Vocal Coach and Associate Musical Director -- said farewell last night as well, and he's heading for "The Tonight Show."
Holley was also the Vocal Director for Michael Jackson and was a key player in the London tour that never happened. He was with Jackson hours before he died.
Holley will become the lead singer in "The Tonight Show" band. And he's not the only "A.I." musical guru who's jumping ship -- Rickey Minor will take over Jay's band.
Need a job? There are openings at "Idol."
Collateral Damage in
Leno's Terror Joke
5/5/2010 2:00 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Jay Leno cracked a joke on his show last night, implying that the Times Square bombing suspect doesn't just support terror ... he also supports Conan O'Brien.
During the gag, Leno created a fake Facebook page for Faisal Shahzad -- on which he claims the perp was a member of several online groups, including Al Qaeda, the Pakistan Frequent Flyers Club ... and Team Coco.
Sneaks Conan O'Brien
Onto Leno Show
4/7/2010 3:55 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Slash pulled off the ultimate act of defiance on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" last night -- dude rocked a Team Coco pin on the air during his performance at the end of the show!
Though it appears NBC tried to edit around the Conan O'Brien support symbol, a few shots of the pin still managed to make air.
No word if Jay even noticed.
Rips Jay Leno:
He's Got No Character
3/16/2010 1:04 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
"Curb Your Enthusiasm" star Jeff Garlin says he wouldn't be caught dead on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" ... because he says Conan's nemesis "has no character."
During an interview with Jimmy Baron from 92.9 Dave-FM Atlanta this weekend, Garlin -- a long time friend and former roommate of Conan O'Brien -- claims NBC was "stupid" to replace Leno with Conan in the first place ... but says Leno derailed Conan's chances for success by doing the 10 o'clock show.
Garlin goes on to rip Leno by saying he has "no character" -- and says he won't be caught dead on "The Tonight Show" now that Jay is hosting it again.
You Gotta Hand It
to Conan O'Brien Fans ...
3/13/2010 3:30 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Team Coco strikes again.
A Conan O'Brien fan posed for a photo with Jay Leno last night with the letters "Coco FTW" written on his hand -- which means "for the win."
Leno got the "Tonight Show" back and Conan got $32.5 million from NBC -- they're both winners.
for the Redhead
3/11/2010 3:45 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Conan O'Brien isn't making a single cent off his upcoming 30 city comedy tour -- sources tell TMZ that Coco is doing the whole thing so he can employ his former "Tonight Show" staff.
We're told roughly 40 people have been hired to work on the production -- many of whom are "Tonight Show" alums.
The move is no sweat off Conan's back -- dude scored a $32.5 million severance deal from NBC before they kicked him to the curb.
And more good news for the crew -- tickets to "The Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour" are selling out so fast, more shows have already been added.
Sorry Jay Leno,
I'm Calling in Sick
2/20/2010 7:12 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Conan O'Brien's pal Will Ferrell is in no hurry to make an appearance on "The Tonight Show" once Jay Leno takes back over. In fact, if Leno comes a callin' ... Ferrell said he might conveniently call in sick.
Will made the comments on the Todd N Tyler Radio Empire morning show in Omaha yesterday.
During the interview, they asked Will if he thinks Leno would still have him on the show since he's such a Team Coco kind of guy ... and he said, "I don't know. My vote's with Conan."
But in the case Will actually gets the invite, he said, "I may have a cold ... I may have a sore throat."
for Screwed Crew
2/2/2010 9:16 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Conan O'Brien is shelling out his own cash to some ex-staffers who didn't get jack from that $7.5 million separation deal from NBC.
According to sources close to production, Conan's stagehands from "The Tonight Show" were not covered by the NBC severance plan. But we're told Conan is stepping up -- promising to pay his nearly 50 person crew at least six weeks severance out of his own pocket.
Conan's people had no comment.
The union for his former crew -- IATSE Local 33 -- says all the members who worked with Conan are "very happy" with the way he handled the whole mess.
Scores $32.5 Mil
1/19/2010 12:45 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Conan O'Brien is losing "The Tonight Show" but he'll be getting a $32.5 million consolation prize courtesy of NBC ... sources tell TMZ.
In return, we've learned Conan has agreed to sit on the bench until September. Translation -- he can't host another show until the fall.
In addition to the $32.5 mil, we've learned NBC is also paying severance to Conan's "Tonight Show" employees. In all, we're told NBC's payout is around $40 million.
But Conan probably won't see close to the $32.5 mil. Under the deal, any money Conan makes during the remaining contract period with NBC will offset the network's obligation. So, if Fox were to make a deal with Conan and pay him $25 mil during the NBC contract period, Conan would only score $7.5 mil from NBC.
One well-placed NBC source told us something surprising -- looks like NBC may keep its intellectual property rights. So Conan can't take his creations -- such as Triumph the Insult Comic Dog and the Masturbating Bear -- to his next gig.
We're told the Conan/NBC deal still isn't completely done, but it's very close.