Jay Leno’s prime-time NBC flop The Jay Leno Show ended its not-so-illustrious run on Tuesday without fanfare. Leno, who will be returning to The Tonight Show after the Winter Olympics ends in March, was self-deprecating about his experience and even had Donald Trump come out to tell the host “you’re fired”.
“It seems like just yesterday I was telling NBC this was not going to work,” Leno said in his final monologue. “This show was supposed to be on for two years,” Leno said, “but we got five months for good behavior.”
Leno didn’t mention his move to The Tonight Show, which is clearly a sore spot for NBC.
NBC was desperate to keep both Leno and Conan O’Brien. The Peacock gave Leno a show five nights a week during prime-time and while his ratings were solid for late night, it was considered a failure for the time slot. Because of this, network affiliates complained that their nightly news show’s ratings tanked, which impacted Conan O’Brien’s new gig on The Tonight Show.
Some affiliates threatened to pull Leno and NBC proposed cutting his show to a half-hour at 11:35 p.m. and moving O’Brien back a half-hour. O’Brien balked and took a buyout from NBC.
Under terms of a settlement reached in the early morning on Thursday, NBC will pay Conan $33 million, which is the balance of his three-year contract, with an additional $12 million that is going to laid-off producers and staff.
Until Sept. 1, Conan can’t work elsewhere and for a shorter period of time, he can’t talk trash about his former employer, appear on other talk shows or do interviews.
Ashton Kutcher and recently retired pro football quarterback Kurt Warner were guests on the finale. Warner even threw a few passes to him. Actress Gabourey Sidibe (Precious) came on to talk about her Best Actress nomination for the Oscars. The show ended with Leno’s question and answer segment with sports personality Bob Costas.
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