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Jay Leno begs Oprah for forgiveness today

Leno today making his pilgrimage to the first Station of the Cross on his road to redemption before NBC re-anoints him host of "The Tonight Show." First stop is always Oprah. Really -- it's a rule. Anyway, lucky people who live in Chicago will get to see it first because Oprah's syndicated show airs there at 9 a.m. CST. Here in Washington, we can't see it until 4 p.m. EST. But Oprah's camp, Harpo Productions, tossed us a meager scrap that's supposed to tide us over until 4 (or until the plucky Associated Press reporter in Chicago files a report -- or some plucky reporter at the ABC station in Chicago, which has the broadcast rights to "Oprah" in the Windy City).

Here's the scrap:

Oprah: Have you talked to Conan in person? 
Leno: I haven't talked to him through all this.  No. I haven't.
Oprah: Did you want to pick up the phone?
Leno: Yeah, but it didn't seem appropriate.
Oprah: Why?
Leno: I don't know. I think it...let things cool down and maybe we'll talk, you know.
Oprah: Were any of the things that he said about you hurtful?
Leno: No.  They were jokes. And that's OK. I mean...
Oprah: So jokes don't hurt you.
Leno: It's what we do, you know? You can't...it's like being a fighter and say when you got punched in the head, did it hurt? Well, yeah. But you're a fighter. That's what you do.

By Lisa de Moraes  |  January 28, 2010; 10:28 AM ET
Categories:  TV News  
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Comments

"Begs for forgiveness?" I don't think Leno has be forgiven for this. This was an NBC decision. If NBC wanted to keep Conan, then they would have let him stay and canceled the Leno show outright. But they wanted to keep Leno, so they asked Conan to move to 12:00. He refused and said adios. I know all you Conan fans think you're so hip and cool and like smearing the old guy (Leno), but think about this: Why do you blame Leno for taking the Tonight Show back when asked, yet you don't blame Conan for taking the show when NBC FORCED Leno to retire early so Conan wouldn't leave?

Posted by: nuzuw | January 28, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Man. If only Leno would beg forgiveness for not being funny.

Posted by: truamerican | January 28, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

" ...his pilgrimage to the first Station of the Cross ..."

Pookie, that really did make me LOL

Posted by: jpstang | January 28, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

PST? Or did you mean EST?

Posted by: marieeastman | January 28, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

I was not aware that Washington was on Pacific Standard Time.

Wouldn't matter to me, anyway. I don't watch Dope-rah.

Posted by: oldguy2 | January 28, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

I hope no one forgets what Leno did to Conan. Jay Leno is a conniving, manipulative, brown-nosing weasel. NBC did what Leno told them to do. I hope Leno loses his audience and destroys The Tonight Show. Then the record will reflect history correctly. Most importantly, Jay Leno is just NOT FUNNY.

Posted by: tbantug | January 28, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

to :nuzuw

When does Jay take some resposibility in the Words of David Letterman he should have shopped himself to another NETWORK and make NBC eat their words instead of hanging out in the Hallway sure he's got 200 people working , How about the hundres!!!!!of people who's TV SHOWS got cancelled to make way for his TV SHOW? He didn't seem to bothered at all removing over 500 people out of their jobs.

Posted by: ComeHuevos | January 28, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Is he looking for forgiveness from Conan fans? Cuz I don't think Conan fans watch Oprah.

Posted by: mediajunky | January 28, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

neither are amusing

Posted by: SofaKingCool2009 | January 28, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

the words "pilgrimage to the First Station of the Cross" is a blatant afront to the Roman Catholic Church. Why use this wording unless you have a thing against Catholics (I am a practicing Catholic) and seek to demean them? It is blasphemy and the author should apologize. The commenter who thought it was funny is likely an atheist or non-Christian. Mike P., VA

Posted by: michaelgpatton | January 28, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Both Leno and Conan are very, very rich men. They will in one year get more money than most of us will see in our lifetimes. O'Brien gets over $30 million for leaving his job. They will muddle through, somehow. Shed a tear for the poor in Haiti, or the U.S., but not for these two guys, who have managed to make a living (a very, very good living) telling jokes, many written by others. No slight at them. They obviously have some talent. But making this into a soap opera is just plain silly.

Posted by: Sutter | January 28, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

First station of the cross, that is rich. Very good analogy.

Posted by: oxhead1 | January 28, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

I don't like either of them so who cares but I love your articles!

Posted by: MrsKirby | January 28, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Jay Leno is a creep and a cad, a crass and obnoxious bounder and I hope he loses everything over this, he had no right to force a much better man out due to jealousy. Leno's style of crass smarmy demi humor went out with bell bottom pants and the mancho culture of the 60's. We are far past that thank God and I will be there when Conan returns. He is a much better man.

Posted by: ForReal1 | January 28, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

First Station of The Cross now that is funny. And to the person who is a "practicing catholic" it could have been worse they could have said International Foundation of Altar Boy Molesters INC. Frankly im tired of the whole Leno Conan saga both gentlemen are not the least bit funny. In fact The Tonight Show has not been funny since Carson. End of Story.

Posted by: joblogger | January 28, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Mike P., there is a difference between making an analogous statement and disrespecting religion. She was clearly using the term "Station of the Cross" to exhibit how media figures take themselves too seriously; that going on Oprah to do damage control is akin to something godly, which clearly it isn't. Rather than offer a knee jerk reaction, why not step back and consider that the comment is a criticism of the media and actually uses the true legitimacy of a religious idea to make the point.

Posted by: Sarcastrophe | January 28, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

There is nothing Jay Leno could say that would convince me that he did not have the power to simply step back and say no. Shove it,Jay. You're selfish and cold-hearted.

Posted by: forgetthis | January 28, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Am I missing something? The headline on this says:
"Jay Leno begs Oprah for forgiveness today"

Where in this interview did Jay Leno asks Ophra for forgiveness much less BEGS for it. AND why would he want to ask Ophra for it? Is she our Lord? Commander-in-Chief? Executor of Human Responsibility? WTF? Are you people nuts?

Posted by: hock1 | January 28, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

wt#*??!!!
hock1 wrote wtf, i wrote wgaf and i am censored. wtf.

Posted by: ninnafaye | January 28, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Leno's a liar. He talks about how NBC wanted him back at 11:30 for ratings. He completely omits that he had a $150M penalty built into his contract and used that leverage to make NBC give him the timeslot. He has a weird, almost psychotic need to stay in the spotlight. Conan turned down a big money offer from Fox based on Leno's 2004 promises. Conan turned down a chance to keep the Tonight Show when Leno and NBC wanted to push it back past midnight. You would NEVER see Leno walk away from the cameras. it's all he has in his weird, sad, and duplicitous life.

Posted by: MendaciousChin | January 28, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Conan was not the right person for the job. He spends time entertaining himself and hasn't got the natural pizzazz that Jay Leno has. Carson was the best and no one can touch him but Leno is a good 2nd. O'Brien never cut the mustard and NBC mad a majpor mistake making him the Tonight Show MC.

Posted by: rjoy1 | January 28, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Leno wouldn't have "pizzazz" if you put 40,000 volts through him.

Posted by: shirc223 | January 28, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry but for some reason the media created this mess and they need to straighten it out. First of all it's amazing how many people that are ignorat to how this whole thing happened are taking sides. How can you blame Jay for stealing Conan's job when CONAN WAS FIRED BEFORE JAY WAS APPROACHED - that's one pretty important fact isn't it? How can you say that Jay stole the job back when CONAN WAS FIRED due to poor performance? As Oprah said on her show that's what she wanted people to see, that Conan was fired because he wasn't performing and Jay didn't even have an opportunity to "steal the job". And I know there are "alot" of Conan fans out there right (so many that his ratings were down 49% but that's another story), but Conan needed to change his style to fit the Tonight Show, he is TOO SILLY and if you think Jay is corny than what the heck is Conan? He's a big kid that plays with puppets, toy cars, and has the worst skits of any late night show host - he couldn't hold a torch to Letterman with his silly antics. Jay Leno beat Letterman for years in a row but Conan couldn't cut the mustard because he is TOO SILLY. Now get over it, Conan YOU'RE FIRED - because you didn't perform, and Jay accepted the job. It is what it is...

Posted by: GAJoe | January 28, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

With all due disrespect to Leno, this was an NBC screw-up from beginning to end. They needed to say "no" to one of them years ago when Conan gave his ultimatum. It was the worst management decision in TV history.

Posted by: dhenken1 | January 28, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

AJoe: And I know there are "alot" of Conan fans out there right (so many that his ratings were down 49% but that's another story),...

I couldn't have said it better myself! Your whole comment said it best!
Cry me a river, Conan! But congrats on your ratings this past friday!! Maybe you could have kept your show on air if you started whining 7 months ago!!

Posted by: jaimgirlie | January 28, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

I'm amazed at what such a polarizing issue this has become. Do any of us really know how these decisions are made at NBC or any Network? I love Conan and I'm sure he will be back. I don't like Leno too much, I will just not watch him. Problem solved.

Posted by: sleeps | January 28, 2010 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Mike P., get a clue. Using a religious analogy is not offensive, it's descriptive. And FYI, Catholics are NOT the only Christians ... you only think you are.

Posted by: Sam888 | January 28, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

To the people blaming Conan because of his lack of ratings - Conan's ratings are irrelevant and were NEVER the issue here. Do you really think that NBC's executives didn't know that The Tonight Show's ratings would drop after replacing an established with a new one? It was an expected and accepted loss. It's called rebuilding - You take a short term loss for a long term gain. There's no way that someone who makes business decisions for a large company like NBC doesn't understand simple business concepts like that...

Jay's show was the one that was canceled because NBC's affiliate stations complained that it was hurting the ratings for their local news programs. They couldn't care less about the ratings for a show that's on after theirs - They'd probably be just as happy with dead air.

The way I see it, Jay IS the bad guy here. NBC made a huge mistake by trying to keep him around instead of committing fully to Conan, but in the end they're running a business and they have to do what it takes to survive - which included not having to pay Jay Leno's 150+ million dollar penalty fee. The ball was in Jay's court to do the right thing, and he didn't. The guy is just a selfish jerk. And the worst thing is that, from what he stated in his interview with Oprah, he doesn't even realize it...

Posted by: IceCreamKitty | January 28, 2010 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Why is he begging Oprah for forgiveness? He should be begging Letterman.

Posted by: mvm_ffx | January 28, 2010 6:59 PM | Report abuse

Wow, so much to learn from this NBC fiasco:

1. An article title has nothing to do with reality (where did the author hear or see Jay Leno "begging for forgiveness"? Makes me wonder if all the other Jay haters have the same problem of seeing things which are not there. Or maybe I am just jealous that voices talk only to them...

2. Never underestimate the power of people to miss the obvious fact for personal feelings. How many injured egos are there in this country when Jay taking a job that Conan lost (due to his own poor performance btw), is seen as "selfish"?

3. Question for Conan fans: If you underperform at your job, and were basically pushed aside or left because you didn't want to be pushed aside, would you expect that no one in the whole world should ever accept your former position?

All the angry Conan fans remind me of the former husband who is jealous of his former wife's new boyfriend: "My spot, no one should have it!"

As for numbers, they speak for themselves: if Conan was better then Leno, he would have higher ratings then Leno. He had enough time to show his numbers at least slowly growing, but they were quickly dropping. That's why he lost his job, not because Jay Leno has magical powers to hire and fire at will.

But as they say "Don't let the truth spoil a good story" as the title of this article illustrates.

Posted by: casualobserver19 | January 28, 2010 7:29 PM | Report abuse


Bill Carter's piece in the New York Times earlier this week makes the case for O'Brien's firing: his ratings in virtually every category stunk. He was even losing to Colbert in a crucial demographic; when you lose to cable, you're toast....

Posted by: jjones49 | January 28, 2010 7:45 PM | Report abuse

This has been the best thing that's ever happened to that doorknob Conan. And they're both lovin' it.

Posted by: kls1 | January 28, 2010 7:49 PM | Report abuse

NBC to Conan: "Here's $33 million. Go away."

There's no business like show business.

Posted by: drazen1 | January 28, 2010 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Jay Leno "begs for forgiveness'? What interview did de Moraes listen to? Certainly not the one Oprah had with Leno. Talk about downright distortion. I don't particularly care about the Conan/Jay thing, but I thought the Post had some concern about accuracy. What's happening to my Post ? ? ? The National Inquirer is more accurate today.

Posted by: rumored | January 28, 2010 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Just about everyone, for many years, has said what a good guy Jay is. As stated above, Conan was perfectly happy prematurely ending Jay's reign of the show --so how nice is he, actually. . .

And btw, Jay's one nasty remark about Letterman came AFTER Letterman strung out a protracted joke mimicking Jay's voice and calling out his wife's name, Mavis --so it was Letterman who first "went there." David Letterman has shown for 17 years what a nasty, sour and vengeful man he truly is. Yes, he is often hilarious, but if one is going to judge any of these guys for their "niceness" my vote is for Jay!

Posted by: zmar2 | January 28, 2010 8:55 PM | Report abuse

i don't buy leno's claim that he was unaware of the behind-the-scenes NBC maneuverings given that, as early as november, he started telling the press he would return to the tonight show if asked:

http://www.11alive.com/life/story.aspx?storyid=137014&catid=37

http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/tv/2009/11/03/2009-11-03_innertube_jay_leno_says_if_asked_hed_go_back_tonight.html

yea, yea, it's circumstantial evidence, but i suspect that, despite what he told oprah, he knew something was afoot and was angling for his job back long before this ordeal started. i'm no letterman fan, but he hit the nail on the head when he mockingly said, "i know it's not [jay's] fault, but isn't it funny that he always turns up at the scene of the crime?" bingo.

Posted by: bobs23 | January 28, 2010 10:46 PM | Report abuse

Frankly, I hold NBC responsible for this whole mess. When Carson left, Leno was a perfect choice, he still is. Think of it this way. If your coworker suddenly decides that he deserves a chance at YOUR job, before you are ready to give it up, would you just leave? Say money is no object. What would YOU do? I've always felt that CBS & NBC created a balance in late night tv. Jay is warm & fuzzy, Letterman is more abrasive & an "in your face" kind of guy so they balance each other out. Craig Ferguson is warm & fuzzy and Conan is abrasive, bitter & an "in your face kind of guy". I was appalled when Jay announced NBC's grand 5yr plan. If Conan was so great & such a rising star, why didn't he look for another spot. Why did he get to say I want Jay's job or I quit & get away with it? Just because Jay CAN do other things, why should he have to? Are you all so altruistic that you would step aside to let a more pushy coworker take your spots? Everyone has been quick to jump on Jay, is that because many of you secretly want to take the place of a coworker that is where you want to be & it would be easier to push them out than to walk your talk and take your greatness on the road? My rule at work has always been...if you are unhappy...leave...if you are happy...stay. If I were Jay, I'd be both hurt & furious at NBC. I said all along that the people who watch the Tonight Show would NOT watch Conan. Obviously I was spot on. Sadly, most all of the stations are trying to crank out the cheapest thing that will bring the most ratings. Quality is gone. That Survivor made it past season 2 still amazes me. Look at our tv shows, they all depict Americans as pushy, back stabbers that want to win at all cost. Wonder why the rest of the world has stepped back? If more people boycotted this unending sequence of Un-Reality tv, perhaps we could see some shows that highlight what Americans used to be known for, pride, generosity, willingness to work hard & take our licks with dignity. This attitude of self entitlement & that the successful literally OWE those that choose to be slackers is more than offensive to me. When did it become OK to just take what another has worked for? Who said life was fair? This age of everyone being a victim & shirking responsibility for their actions helps no one. If you think Jay is wrong for wanting to keep what he has earned & that Conan deserves to have it just because he thinks he deserves it...who in your life do you want to push out so you can have their life?

Posted by: RDW23237 | January 29, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse

I don't believe for a minute Jay's sad tale of how all this came down. This is NBC trying to put a good spin on Jay's image so people won't hate him when he takes back the Tonight Show at 11:30. I cannot believe that Conan knew they were planning to put Jay on at 10:00 right before the tonight show when he made his deal with NBC 5 years ago. Do people really believe that Jay's show had no effect on Conan's ratings? He was given no chance to make the Tonight Show his own. Jay NEVER went away. Those that loved Jay didn't need to give Conan a try since Jay was still on the air; same show, earlier time slot. The whole thing is ridiculous. I'll never watch Leno again. He's a snake.

Posted by: rfd0507 | January 29, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Personally, I would be humiliated if I took my old job back from the guy who replaced me, especially after failing miserably at my new job, causing affiliates to revolt in protest; I guess in addition to having no dignity, Mr. Leno has no shame, either. Pathetic. Also pathetic was this soft-focus sham interview that Ms. Winfrey staged on her show. Time to pack it in, Oprah.

Posted by: franktank | January 29, 2010 9:20 PM | Report abuse

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