Let me first preface this post by saying I have never been a fan of Jay Leno. I've never found him funny, I've never found him engaging or interesting as an interviewer and I think the only time he's ever shown any grace when handling sticky situations is when he offered to cut his salary by 50% for this year to try and save some of his employees' jobs (but it felt more like a PR stunt -- and don't I know about those?! than a sincere gesture -- but, hey, some people got to keep their jobs so whatev!). However, let's do the math about the 50% paycut ... after slicing his salary in half he still is making $16 million.
He does 260 shows a year so take $16,000,000 and divide that by 260 = $61,538.46. After so "graciously" taking a 50% pay cut, Jay Leno still makes more for one SHOW than the average American makes in one YEAR. (Mind you he also makes an estimated $20-$25 MILLION in addition thanks to a busy stand-up touring schedule.)
LENO BY THE NUMBERS
In 1992 Leno took over The Tonight Show with a $1million yearly salary. Then over the course of 20 years, Leno made a total of $286 million just from his hosting duties -- that equates to an average of more than $14 million per year for 20 years.)
CAN WE TALK?
There were two other instances that i felt he showed really bad form: in 1992 when it was time to announce a successor to beloved Johnny Carson, everyone thought it would be Joan Rivers -- after all, not only was she the first female to host The Tonight Show (when Carson would go on vacation, he would primarily have Rivers or Leno sit in for him) but she also hosted it more times than any other temp). When it was announced that Leno would be the successor to the throne, Rivers was devastated and most people were shocked and David Letterman was dumbfounded (as conjecture was that if the unthinkable happened and Rivers didn't get the gig that #2 late night host Letterman would be asked to move over).
Leno's handling of that situation felt dismissive to say the least but also really disrespectful to Rivers who had blazed trails on so many levels, can we talk? Sometimes the sheer lack of acknowledging the Jewish elephant in the room can leave a really bad, peanutty taste in a lot of big mouths.
Then the fiasco that was the involuntary move to a new show for Leno and Conan O'Brien being asked to move into the host seat of Tonight Show two years ago started off as a complete disaster and THEN imploded. Conan took over The Tonight Show and initially ratings soared while Leno's 10 p.m. show was a complete ratings wasteland. When it was clear that his new show wasn't gonna make it, Leno told critics he'd love to take over The Tonight Show again: no shame, no class. And then he did just that... Conan lost his job and Leno took home a $25 million per year salary.
So why Jimmy Fallon? Because NBC is scared to death of Jimmy Kimmel and his growing audience of younger key demos. Noted.
Do I think Jimmy Fallon will be able to fill the shoes of Leno, Carson and Jack Parr? I am skeptical but I know he'll give it his all.
Do I think it's a little strange that Leno's being ousted despite being the highest rated late night show in all demos? A little. Do I feel sorry for Leno because he has been wronged? I think he sorta deserves to take this one on the chin.