Jay Leno: Conan O’Brien ‘Got Screwed’ by NBC

by | March 31, 2010 at 5:01 PM | The Tonight Show, TV News

Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien (Photo: NBC)

Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien (Photo: NBC)

While backstage at ‘The Tonight Show‘ with Joy Behar, Jay Leno confessed his true feelings about the late-night shake-up at NBC, in which he reclaimed his position as the ‘Tonight’ host.

Leno candidly admits on camera that he and Conan O’Brien were both “treated terribly” by NBC. “Conan got screwed. I got screwed. This is TV. The reason show business pays a lot of money is so when you get screwed you’ve got something left over,” Leno said (via CNN.)

Lending his support, Leno believes O’Brien will actually come back bigger than ever. “I think Conan will come back and he’ll be strong,” Leno said to Behar. “And we’ll all compete against one another. It should be me against [David] Letterman, against Conan, against [Jimmy] Kimmel — and then you see who wins.”

Watch Part 1 of Joy Behar’s Potty-Mouth Moments on ‘The Tonight Show’:


O’Brien is bringing a “half-assed” live comedy show to cities across the U.S. while rumors continue to swirl about his alleged late-night gig at Fox. His manager Gavin Polone said the show is far from a done deal because NBC’s $40 million contract buyout stipulates that O’Brien can’t appear on television until September.

Since the late-night showdown, Leno has continued to stress how Conan — who many feel took the brunt NBC’s 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 during his show in January.

The rumors of animosity aren’t keeping Leno down though. “All comics are friends, [but] when you go on stage your job is to blow the other guys off the stage,” he told Behar. “I get it. That’s the way it works. You don’t impede somebody else’s opportunity, but when you go out there that’s what you do.”

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Watch Part 2 of Behar’s ‘Tonight’ Riffs on Celebrity Outlaws Jesse James and Tiger Woods: