September 12, 2009

Leno says NBC wanted limited ‘Tonight’ run

U.S. comedian Jay Leno says NBC executives originally planned for him to serve as host of The Tonight Show for a shorter time.

Leno, who will premiere his new prime time TV series on NBC next week, said he was informed by NBC officials five years ago that they wanted to replace him with comedian Conan O'Brien within three years, The New York Times reported Saturday.

Actually, they wanted me out in three years, said Leno, who departed the Tonight Show in May. I had to argue to get the other two. Oh, yeah. I said: 'Let's make it five. You want me out? I'll do five.'

Leno's recollection of those past events has been questioned by Rick Ludwin, NBC's executive in charge of late-night programs.

That is definitely not my recollection, Ludwin said. I don't remember three years being mentioned.

Now both sides are betting on the success of The Jay Leno Show with NBC heavily promoting the new prime time series due to premiere Monday.

It's just so embarrassing, Leno told the Times of his response to the wealth of Leno promotions. It's a genetic fault that makes you go into show business. It's not a plus.