Jay Leno's No Apologies Tour kicked off Thursday on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and it looks like he needs to work on his "humility" act. Leno's "I've got no managers, I'm a working-class guy" shtick has kept him afloat for years, but you can slowly start to see the air seeping out of the act. A few things that startled me:
Leno saying that he didn't fully comprehend how many actors and writers and other craftsman would lose work because "The Jay Leno Show" was taking over a huge chunk of prime-time. "That one did catch me," he said. "That was something I wasn't thinking about." What?!?!? I can't think of a journalist, myself included, who DIDN'T ask Jay that very thing when he was promoting the new show. Leno would say time and time again that he, too, was keeping writers and such employed (although that number is less than 200).
Leno said repeatedly that O'Brien was moved because the ratings weren't there and suggested that "The Tonight Show" should move to someone else when it dips to No. 2. He also talked about keeping the late-night show No. 1 after Carson left. Um, Jay seems to forget that when "The Tonight Show" was losing to Letterman for his first THREE YEARS. Only after Hugh Grant's appearance in 1995 did it turn around. O'Brien didn't even get ONE year. SHows take time to build and Leno knows that.
It was also startling to me how curt Leno was about O'Brien's ratings. Yeah, they weren't great - but isn't that in large part because "The Jay Leno Show" performed horribly at 9 p.m., killed local news ratings and thus gave "The Tonight Show" a really poor lead-in? Leno's inability to take any blame for "The TOnight Show"'s ratings is startling.
Leno said he only made the "one joke" about Letterman's infidelity. Hey, I think the topic is fair game, but let's not lie, Jay. You've made more than one crack about it in bits and monologues.
Leno says Jimmy Kimmel "sucker punched" when the ABC host appeared on 10 at 10. Really? C'mon, Jay. What did you expect? Kimmel was equally startled, but used the bit for another zinger on Thursday night's show. He expected Leno to jab back - which he didn't, instead opting to do an impression of a wax figure. "He just stood there," Kimmel said. "At one time he was a comedian."