Is Jay Leno finally getting what he deserves?
It looks that way, at least to some comedians that think Leno "sold out" years ago for the chance to do the Tonight Show.
The NY Daily News writes that the end game likely will leave Leno in tears, but he’ll be crying into a pile of money, and really, I can think of too many people to count who would gladly endure far worse humiliations for even a fraction of Jay’s mountain of gold.
All signs point to network brass doing everything they can to push Leno out to pasture and keep Jay from snatching “Tonight” back from Fallon, the way he did with O’Brien. Leno, who’s devoted so many years to the show, is right to want to hang on, and even be bitter about the situation; he is, after all, one of the few success stories left at NBC. But he has also been paid handsomely for his services, banking hundreds of millions since 1992, which is sure to ease the pain somewhat — even for a workaholic like him.
Leno’s late-night rival at ABC, Jimmy Kimmel, probably can’t get enough of Leno’s misfortune.
“He’s totally sold out,” Kimmel told Rolling Stone in January. “Leno hasn’t been a good standup in 20 years.”
“As a comedian, you can’t not have disdain for what he’s done,” Kimmel added. “He was a master chef who opened a Burger King.”
Indeed, among the problems many showbiz people have with Leno is their view that he was the best comedian of his generation until he sold his soul for a career telling boring jokes that appeal to Middle America.
In the comedy world, that’s an unforgivable sin.
It doesn’t help that Leno outfoxed David Letterman — one of the most respected comics in the industry — to land the “Tonight” job, hiding in a closet at NBC to eavesdrop on executives as they mulled who should replace Johnny Carson.
Years later, Leno would push out O’Brien (an equally beloved figure among standup comics) with similar — although more subtle — behind-the-scenes moves.
It’s that sneakiness, coupled with lame jokes and tepid sketches (many of which Howard Stern has accused Leno of stealing from his radio show), that have caused the hate to flow like lava.
For his part, Leno has never seemed to care, and that might also be part of his problem. Nothing bruises egos more than being ignored.
There’s a problem with NBC’s plan, though.
Leno’s humor appeals to nearly everyone who watches late-night TV west of the Hudson and east of L.A.
NBC execs know this and are desperately trying to frame the transition in the best light possible.
Actually, no, they’re not. They’ve refused to officially confirm their plan, despite plenty of top executives anonymously spilling their guts about it every day.
H/T NY Daily News