With all the cards in place for Conan O'Brien's exit from NBC and the Tonight Show, there's likely only one person who can stop this late night soap opera
from playing out: Jay Leno. On its face it seems improbable. Why would
Leno back away now after deftly maneuvering his way back to the top?
One theory is that pressure from comedians (and Conan fans) could convince Leno
to concede. How much pressure is Leno taking? Here's the flack Hollywood's biggest chin is getting from personalities in his profession:
- Jimmy Kimmel On Leno's Thursday night show, Kimmel slammed him in his own house. After Leno asked him what the best prank he ever pulled was, Kimmel responded: "The best prank I ever pulled was I told a guy that--five years from now--I'm gonna give you my show. And then when the five years came, I gave it to him, and then I took it back almost instantly." Then Leno asked him how many lap dances he's gotten in one night: "Strippers, I don't like in general. Because you have this phony relationship with them for money, similar to that of when you and Conan were on The Tonight Show together, passing the torch... you know what I'm saying."
- Rosie O'Donnell: While promoting her new HBO documentary, O'Donnell told Leno to step down: "If you're privileged enough to be asked to drive the bus you should say thank you. And when you're done, you say thank you and you should pass the keys to the new guy -- with red hair -- and not try to flatten the tires."
- David Letterman On Tuesday, after referring to Leno as "Big-Jaw Leno," Letterman ran a parody of Law & Order called "Leno Victims Unit." As the producers cue the trademark Law & Order theme song, a deep voiced narrator intones: "In the television industry their are two types of talk show hosts: Jay Leno and those who have been victimized by Jay Leno. These are their stories."
- Howard Stern The radio host has always reviled Leno often saying he "behaves like a robot." On a recent broadcast he said Leno masterminded the entire NBC late night fiasco. Gawker's Mike Byhoff writes:
Howard thinks that Jay Leno had it in for Conan the whole time. And while Jay had the benefit of a lead-in during his tenure, he maliciously took over the 10 o'clock slot because he knew Conan would be blocked from having a good lead-in, all while simultaneously stealing Conan's thunder. Crack pot theory? Eh, maybe, but it is fun to think of Jay as this evil, brooding mastermind; his face consumed in darkness with the exception of his chin.