Jay Leno came out swinging.
Leno said, "As you may have heard there's a rumor floating around that we were cancelled. I heard it coming in on the radio this morning. So far nobody's said anything to me. But Kev, you know if we did get cancelled, that will give us time to do some traveling. In fact, I hear Fox is beautiful this time of year. Beautiful."
Leno held nothing back in his opening monologue following reports that NBC plans to cancel his 10pm show and return him to late night.
Leno said, âI don't think there's any truth to the rumor. You see it's been my experience NBC only cancels you when you're in first place."
Mary Murphy said, âThey removed jay Leno from The Tonight Show when he was number oneâ¦stupid mistake.â
NBC is reportedly telling Leno his show will be a half hour long show and would start at 11:35pm, after local news. That would shift The Tonight Show with Conan OâBrien back a half hour, to 12:05am.
It would be the first time in The Tonight Show's storied 56-year history that it would start so late.
Leno is said to be furious about the move and Conan O'Brien is reportedly humiliated at the prospect of being demoted to so late a time slot.
"This has been a screw up from the beginning. They never should have moved Leno. They never should have moved Conan Oâbrien," said Mary Murphy.
NBC was staying tight-lipped about the move, even the folks at The Today Show were left in the dark.
And we're learning more about how NBC broke the news to Leno. NBC's top entertainment executive met with Leno and his executive producer Wednesday night.
When the show's staff arrived Thursday morning they were shocked to see that the board showing the schedule of guests for after the winter Olympics had been taken down. Panic ensued among the staff and that board quickly went back up."
In a statement, NBC was coy and vague, saying, "Jay Leno is one of the most compelling entertainers in the world today."
But it acknowledged his show's ratings are disappointing "it has..presented some issues for our affiliates."
"it has..presented some issues for our affiliates."
Mary Murphy said âWhatâs really going on at NBC is that they are desperate to keep both Leno and Conan Oâbrien because their greatest fear is that one of them will go to another network."