How did Jay Leno really feel in 2009, when NBC revealed its master plan to hand The Tonight Show over to Conan O’Brien? The comedian doesn’t mince words in an upcoming interview with 60 Minutes, telling Steve Kroft that the decision took him completely by surprise. “I was blindsided,” he says, according to CBS News.
And though Leno adds that he never asked his corporate overlords to explain their reasoning, hearing he was being replaced felt like being rejected by his girlfriend: “You know, you have a girl [who] says, ‘I don’t want to see you anymore.’ Why? You know, she doesn’t want to see you anymore, okay?”
This time around, though, Leno seems much more at peace with the network’s machinations — even though, as the host notes in the clip below, he “probably would have stayed [on Tonight] a little longer” if he had his druthers.
That said, Leno adds, “it’s not my decision” — and he believes that bringing in “an extremely qualified young guy” like Jimmy Fallon, whom Leno likens to “a young Johnny [Carson],” makes “perfect sense.” So maybe this isn’t a happy ending for Leno — but at least it’s one he can understand.
Watch the full interview on CBS’s 60 Minutes Sunday, Jan. 26 at 7 p.m. ET.