On Monday evening, news broke that Leno, who is to vacate the “Tonight Show” seat in spring of next year when O’Brien takes over, has a new show lined up at the network in primetime. And though many suspected O’Brien, who was promised the “Tonight Show” gig in 2004, would be hit hard by the news, he revealed he’s known about it for a while.
“I’ve had many people calling me today saying, ‘What is all this?’ ‘What’s happening?’” O’Brien said during his Tuesday monologue on “Late Night With Conan O’Brien.” “Jay Leno is going to be going in at 10 [PM] on NBC. I wanted to make something very clear here on the show this evening. I’ve known about this for a while.”
O’Brien said he has already discussed the move with Leno and he is pleased for his fellow late night host.
“I’ve talked a lot about this with Jay. I am thrilled. I am absolutely thrilled that Jay is staying at NBC. He has been my lead-in on this program for 16 seasons. He is a fantastic lead-in,” O’Brien continued. “He is a huge part of my success. I am indebted to Jay Leno. And I love the idea that that relationship is going to continue. He is going to be my lead-in continuing, I hope, for a long, long time. So congratulations to Jay Leno.”
And, the redheaded comedian added, he is happy with Leno staying on for another reason.
“This is a happy ending. It’s very nice. We’re thrilled for him and we’re thrilled for everybody at the ‘Tonight Show.’ Also I’ve talked it over with my producer and that means I can keep doing my Jay Leno impression,” he concluded.