The Tonight Show Controversy
Jay: No, I got fired this time because my show did not perform. Makes perfect sense to me. My show was not winning its time period. That's a perfectly valid reason to go, "Pack your bags."
Oprah: So at the time they told you that, did they offer you in the same breath an opportunity to go back to The Tonight Show?
Jay: No. What they said was: "Here's our plan. We'd like you to do a half hour at 11:35 and Conan would do an hour at 12:05." And I said, "Conan keeps The Tonight Show and all the, you know, glitter and star power that goes with it?" And they said, "Yeah." And I said, "Okay." ... It would still be The Jay Leno Show, and I would still do a monologue and a comedy piece, and I thought: "Okay, I'll do a half hour at 11:30. Conan will do an hour." And I remember saying to one of the executives, "Do you think Conan will go for that?" "Oh yeah, no problem. We are 75 percent sure Conan will take this deal." I said okay, [and] shake hands. Again, I'm not a big contract guy. I shake hands. I'll do a half hour, Conan will take an hour, we'll see what happens.