Jay Leno talks late-night with Oprah Winfrey
Jay Leno took to the airwaves on Thursday, appearing on The Oprah Winfrey Show to finally -- FINALLY! -- give his side of the story about this whole mess with some guy named Conan O'Brien. Oh, and what did the most-hated man in late-night have to say? Hey, this all made him very sad. At least he still has a job.
"It broke my heart. It really did I was devastated," Leno said. "This was the job that I had always wanted and this was the only job that ever mattered in show business -- to me. It's the job every comic aspires to. It was just like, why?"
When O pointed out that he'd had five years to figure what he would do next, he said he hadn't been entirely truthful.
"Well, I did tell a white lie on the air," Leno said. "I said, 'I'm going to retire.'" It was just maybe easier that way."He noted he thought he'd find another show on another network, but that would've been tough. Not as tough as, say, stealing his show back after leaving fair and square, but hey ...
Winfrey then noted that a lot of people had taken sides against Leno, and asked him if he thought he was being selfish in returning to the Tonight Show.
"It all comes down to numbers in show business. This is almost the perfect storm of bad things happening. You have two hit shows -- Tonight Show No. 1 and Conan No. 1. You move them both to another situation. And what are the odds that both would do extremely poorly? If Conan's numbers had been a little bit higher, it wouldn't even be an issue. But in show business, there's always somebody waiting in the wings. Being me."
That's probably the most jerkweed thing we've heard him say yet, but it also seems he hasn't even spoken to Conan since the whole mess started, saying "it didn't seem appropriate." As if saying he's sorry the network was doing this was inappropriate.
[A decent transcript-style roundup is at the Chicago Tribune here.]