Jay Leno was the man of the people. Down to earth. Affable. A big lug. Liked cars. Big, expensive cars. Tons of cars. I used to trust Jay Leno but with all the press about him and Conan, I don’t anymore. I thought Jay Leno’s interview with Oprah would somehow, some way, redeem him in my eyes and in the eyes of others. She skewered him, lightly, with the gentle grace that only Oprah could pull off. Like a James Frey redo. She asked questions in a fair, even way but somehow he couldn’t quite get his act together. He whined, he expressed NO remorse about Conan and said he never talked to Conan personally nor does he plan too. He could have somehow come out of this mess a little less dirty, a little less oily but he didn’t. The Oprah interview showed him as a cold-hearted celebrity, needing fame more than friendship; greed over greatness.
He COULD have stepped down and made way for Conan. I was never a big Conan fan to begin with but after this brouhaha he started looking a lot better. I watched Conan O’ Brien for the first time in my life; it was humbling. The show portrayed Jay Leno as the rottweiler and Conan as the poor, abused, puppy. When I watched Conan I felt sad; when I watched Jay I felt angry. Here’s the reason why, according to Jay Leno “ratings” are what counts, according to Conan, life is about way more than that. I agree with Conan, there’s more to life than ratings. There’s kindness and doing the right thing.
Kudos to Jimmy Kimmel for appearing on Leno and “sucker-punching” Leno. Kimmel was straight and to the point and actually said to Jay Leno (and I am paraphrasing) what many of us were feeling. “You had your chance, you had the show for 16 years, it’s just you and Mavis and a lot of cars, you have 18 billion dollars. Conan and I are family guys, we have families. Leave us alone.” Those remarks made a direct hit to our hearts and seemed to bounce off Leno like a boomerang.
After that Jay Leno should have stopped, checked his incredibly large ego at the door and said good-bye to NBC and The Tonight Show. He should have left graciously instead of greedily. He wouldn’t give a little bit and I don’t think he’s the nice guy that he used to appear to be.
Have you learned nothing about the world? How many more billions will make you happier? Doing the right thing may be very different than doing things for ratings. There’s kindness, there’s being a good man, and then, there’s karma.
I’ll stay with Letterman, who even if he is acerbic, is smart, quick and honest. Jay, I used to like you but I don’t anymore. If I could predict I would say that a lot of people are with me on this. Even when you go back to NBC to the time-slot of your choice, it may feel very, very different and you deserve whatever you get. And then some.