Jay Leno on taking the blame for NBC booting Conan O’Brien

Credit: NBC
Credit: NBC /

Many years after the fact, Jay Leno is revealing his thoughts on being blamed for Conan O’Brien’s controversial exit from The Tonight Show on NBC.

When many people hear Jay Leno’s name, they’ll roll their eyes in disgust. To this day, Leno is seen as a villain through the eyes of many. It all dates back to 2010 when Leno found himself in the center of a huge controversy between Conan O’Brien and NBC.

To refresh your memory, I’ll recap the story as quickly as I can. Basically, Conan had been brought in as the new host of NBC’s Tonight Show, taking the reins from Leno. The move saw Leno move to an earlier timeslot in the evening, but NBC was faced with a problem — both shows were failing. Panicking because of the falling ratings, NBC became desperate to put things back to how they were.

Initially, NBC offered Conan the chance to keep The Tonight Show, but move its timeslot past midnight. Leno’s talk show would then air in place of Conan’s Tonight Show. For his part, Conan basically told NBC where they could stick it, and fled to the greener pastures at TBS. Leno then took back over The Tonight Show, hosting it for four years until stepping down (for real).

Still seen as a bad guy, Leno recently spoke about taking the blame for the Tonight Show fiasco. It seems he can’t help but be entertained when people say how he “conspired” to steal the show from Conan. From CinemaBlend:

"“Somehow this was my fault … and then Conan quit … I sort of smile when I read about how I ‘conspired’ — you know, ‘Jay Leno demanded the show back and they had to give it to him because they had to pay him $150 million.’ No, they didn’t have to give me $150 million. I mean, if I’m that smart, how did I lose the show in the first place?”"

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The Tonight Show nowadays features Jimmy Fallon, and you can catch it weeknights at 11:35 pm EST on NBC.