For Jay Leno, Parting Is Such Sour Sorrow

Jay Leno, flanked by Ben Silverman (left) and Marc Graboff, goes after the bald truth.
Jay Leno, flanked by Ben Silverman (left) and Marc Graboff, goes after the bald truth. (By Paul Drinkwater -- Nbc)
By Lisa de Moraes
Tuesday, July 22, 2008

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., July 21

"Tonight Show" host Jay Leno showed up at Thank God We're Still Working Summer TV Press Tour 2008 to bat NBC suits around a bit.

He was disguised as a reporter in the audience during a Q&A with NBC Co-Chairmen Ben Silverman and Marc Graboff -- just as ABC late-night host Jimmy Kimmel had posed as a reporter during ABC Entertainment President Steve McPherson's at-bat with reporters earlier in the tour.

Both hosts' appearances had been ginned up by their networks as a funny way to handle hot questions about their late-night plans.

NBC is replacing Leno as host of "Tonight" on June 1, 2009 -- the day Conan O'Brien takes the seat Leno's had since May 1992.

It's the culmination of a pact made with O'Brien four years ago to keep him at NBC. But Leno is still the late-night ratings leader (and O'Brien's been dinged a bit by Craig Ferguson's CBS late-night show) and NBC is trying to keep him at the network so he won't do a competing show.

But Leno recently told USA Today he was "done" with NBC, and the hot rumor these days has him moving over to ABC to host a late-night show.

So, Kimmel put on a baseball cap and asked McPherson goofy questions such as:

If you were even to talk to Jay Leno, wouldn't that be like contract tampering? Wouldn't that be illegal? Couldn't you go to jail for that?


Are you at all afraid that if you do replace Jimmy Kimmel, he might do something crazy to you or your car?

Which played well in the room.

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