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Jay Leno and The Tonight Show Fiasco - Show Recap


Jay Leno and The Tonight Show Fiasco - Show Recap

Jay Leno

Jason Merritt

Original Air Date:

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Oprah sat down with Jay Leno on the set of his primetime NBC show to get his side of The Tonight Show controversy.

Show Summary:

The controversy with Jay Leno, Conan O'Brian, NBC and The Tonight Show has caught the attention of the nation despite everything that is going on in the world. But while fans of both late night talk show hosts have taken sides, many don't know the full story of the events that transpired. Oprah sat down with Jay Leno on the set of cancelled Jay Leno Show to find out his side of what happened at NBC in the past few weeks. While Jay was willing to speak about the decisions that were made, Conan O'Brian's team stated that it was not the right time for him to share about his experience at this point.

Special Highlights:

This episode featured the following highlights:

  • NBC approached Jay Leno in 2004 with a plan for Conan O'Brian to take over The Tonight Show because they didn't want to lose him at the network, according to Jay. While he was disappointed at losing his show while still on top, he agreed and made the announcement.

  • In 2009 Conan took over Jay's spot and in order for the network not to lose Jay, they offered him his own primetime show, which he accepted. For seven months he handoff went seamlessly, until the ratings came in poorly for both shows.

  • Jay explained to viewers that TV isn't about fairness, but about numbers.

More Highlights:

  • In an attempt to improve the ratings at NBC, the network planned to move Jay from the 10:00 hour to 11:35 with his own show for 30 minutes and keep Conan on The Tonight Show at 12:05. According to Jay, NBC thought Conan would for sure be ok with the plan until he decided to turn it down.

  • With Conan choosing to leave the network, he was paid out of his contract and Jay was given back his hosting spot on The Tonight Show. While many fans saw this as a selfish move, Jay explained that the decision was up to NBC and he wasn't just thinking of himself, but the staff of 170 people that depend on him.

What to Take Away from the Show:

After seeing the show it is an important lesson to not believe everything you see on TV or read in the media because there are always two sides to every story. In this case, there are three sides -- Jay, NBC, and Conan. The story made headlines for weeks and Jay was shocked that people paid so much attention and were heated about a TV show when there is so much going on around the world. Oprah asked the tough questions viewers wanted to know and Jay was open about doing what was best for the network and the team of the employees working for him. While the tension isn't resolved, the show must go on.

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