Jay Leno Has 'No Animosity' Towards Conan O'Brien
By Mike Hess Posted Jan 18th 2010 11:15PM
"But through all of this - through all of this, Conan O'Brien has been a gentleman. He's a good guy. I have no animosity towards him. This is all business," Leno told his audience. Watch:
Leno opened up his statement by saying he wanted to give his audience "my view of what has been going on here at NBC." He went on to detail that in 2004, NBC essentially pushed him into retirement because Conan was getting offers from other networks. So, Jay retired.
According to Jay, NBC then wanted to keep him on their network and said to him: "'How about primetime?' I said, 'that will never work.'" He said the network executives told him it will be a hit. "People will go crazy," they told him. Leno also said NBC told him: "We guarantee you two years on the air, guaranteed. Now for the first four or five months against original shows like 'CSI' you'll get killed, but in the spring and summer when the reruns come, that's when you'll pick up.'"
Leno says he wasn't overly thrilled with NBC's idea and decision to move him back to 11:30 with a half-hour show, but he obliged.
"I said, 'Okay, I'm not crazy about doing a half hour, but okay. What do you want to do with Conan?' 'We'll put him on at midnight, or 12:05, keeps 'The Tonight Show,' does all that, he gets the whole hour.' I said, okay. You think Conan will go for that? 'Yes, yes.'
The crowd then burst into laughter, as Conan obviously didn't say yes. Instead, he's walking away from NBC and potentially being bought out for upwards of $40 million.
Jay says after he saw Conan was upset and released a statement saying he didn't want to move his show, NBC offered him the full gig. I go, 'Yeah, I'll take the show back. If that's what he wants to do. This way, we keep our people working, fine.' So that's pretty much where we are. It looks like we might be back at 11:30, I'm not sure. I don't know."
Still, Jay wanted to stress how Conan -- who many feel took the brunt of some poor decision making -- was a class act.
"Through all of this, Conan O'Brien has been a gentleman. He's a good guy. I have no animosity towards him. This is all business. If you don't get the ratings, they take you off the air. I think you know this town, you can do almost anything. You get ratings they keep you. I don't get ratings, he wants. That was NBC's solution. It didn't work so we might have an answer for you tomorrow. So, we'll see. That's basically where it is," Jay said.
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