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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Oprah and Leno

This was the most interesting part of the exchange, more for what it reveals about Oprah than what it does about Jay:

WINFREY: This is what I think--I think--one of the reasons why I wanted to do the interview is because I'm really surprised that so many people are against you, because I think that people don't understand the way television works.

Mr. LENO: Right.

WINFREY: And I think that honestly, if people--I could understand people thinking you were selfish if you owned the show and controlled the show.

Mr. LENO: Right.

WINFREY: It's a little surprising to me that people think that you stole the show, when in fact, it wasn't your show to steal.

Mr. LENO: Right.

WINFREY: It's owned by NBC.

Mr. LENO: You know, it's the reason I never wanted to own the show. It's the same reason I don't ever want ...

WINFREY: Well, owning the show is pretty good too, I have to say.

Mr. LENO: It is good. But you know something? It's the same reason I don't want to own rental property. I don't want to be a landlord.

WINFREY: You don't?

Mr. LENO: I like to come to work. I love being a highly paid employee.

This part was entertaining as well, if only because you get the feeling Oprah isn't buying any of this:
WINFREY: Did you feel bad for Conan at any point?

Mr. LENO: I did, I felt really bad for Conan. I think it's unfair, but TV is not fair. I thought it was unfair for me.

WINFREY: You felt that for Conan, but you didn't think you caused--you were the reason ...
Mr. LENO: No, I wasn't the reason. The reason was the ratings.

WINFREY: Mm-hmm. Do you have regrets?

Mr. LENO: Oh, yeah, I do have regrets. I regret that it wasn't handled better. I'm just not sure what I could have done differently.

WINFREY: Lots of people say you could have walked away.

Mr. LENO: Again, by walking away, that is an ego decision. That is me going, "No, goodbye, everybody, you know something? I'm fed up with this. You-all fend for yourselves. Good luck finding jobs, I'm out of here. To me, that's the ego decision, not the other one.

WINFREY: Is it, really?

Mr. LENO: Oh, yeah, I think so, I think so. Like ...

WINFREY: How is it an ego decision for you to say I've done it, I've done "The Tonight Show," I've tried it prime time, that didn't work. Thank you, NBC. I'll take my paycheck and go."

Mr. LENO: If I was going to do it that way I would say maybe after these two years of being on the air, I would tell my staff, "One year from today, it's over, guys."

WINFREY: But you could have done what--do you think now you could have done what Conan did? When they came in and said your prime time show's canceled, you say okay, you owe me two years, because that's what you said at the beginning.

Mr. LENO: Right, right.

WINFREY: You were guaranteed at least a year.

Mr. LENO: Right.

WINFREY: Two years if you were successful.

Mr. LENO: Right.

WINFREY: Pay me out, pay out my staff. You could have done that.

Mr. LENO: I could have done that, but I didn't. They offered me my old job back.

WINFREY: Right, I get that.

Mr. LENO: Which is the dream job. I said okay.

WINFREY: Is there a bigger lesson in all of this?

Mr. LENO: The key is not to be bitter and I think Conan said it best when he said don't be cynical.

WINFREY: Mm-hmm. And yet you said earlier you haven't called him?

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