Jay Leno takes a 50 percent pay cut, renews with Tonight Show through 2014

By | September 10, 2012 at 2:26 pm | 7 comments | News, TV/Movies | Tags: , , , ,

A few weeks ago, we learned 20 staffers were laid off from the Tonight Show and that Jay Leno took a “tremendous” pay cut in order to prevent additional employee cuts. And now we know just how “tremendous” that cut was: 50 percent! The Wall Street Journal today reports that Leno’s nearly $30 million salary was slashed to about $15 million, which means the show’s annual budget was lowered by 20 percent. During the cutbacks, which left the Tonight Show with 200 employees, Leno also re-upped with Comcast-owned NBC through May 2014.

During his first monologue after the firings (video here), Leno joked, “Welcome to the Tonight Show, or as Comcast calls us, The Expendables!” telling the studio audience, “As you may have heard, our parent company has downsized the Tonight Show. And we’ve consistently been No. 1 in the ratings. And if you know anything about our network, that kind of thing is frowned upon.” NBC’s head entertainment suit, Robert Greenblatt explained the cuts were necessary in order to get out of debt from the millions put in to the show when Leno went to prime time. (You remember that whole Leno/Conan shitshow, right?) Watch Conan O’Brien and David Letterman talk about it here. “All we did was bring it back down to pre-prime-time levels,” Greenblatt said.

It’s been widely reported that Leno doesn’t even spend his Tonight Show salary, as he’s able to live on the extra green he gets from stand-up shows and other engagements. So, don’t worry, comedy fans. Jay will be ok!

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=630422099 Lorraine Rock

    I think he can afford it! He is vastly overpaid for being terribly unfunny. The only part of the show I ever liked was “headlines” I haven’t watched since he screwed Conan. After reading his “Autobiography” (also unfunny) I think I understand why!

  • Sara

    Three things to get out of the way: 1) Leno’s not funny 2) He did not handle the Conan thing well, by any stretch 3) Even after this paycut, he’s immensely overpaid.

    But he’s not a bad guy, and he has an insanely bad rap. I mean, everyone’s comedy darling, Louis C.K., loves Leno, even going so far as to put him on “Louie.” Give the guy a damn break. If you don’t like his comedy (which I, for one, detest), then don’t watch his show.

    That said, don’t bitch when he does something ADMIRABLE. Yes, taking a 50% paycut—no matter how much money you’re making—is pretty freaking admirable. Get off his back.

    Also, don’t forget: the guy worked his ass off to get where he is. Love or hate him, no one just gets to host the Tonight Show

  • christopatten

    I know there’s a lot more to this story but was I the only one who was legitimately shocked to hear that’s the Tonight Show has a staff of 200. That seems like an insane number of people for a talk show. Either way, I don’t think Jay’s ever made me smile let alone laugh but I think he’s shown a great deal of dignity about the pay cut. There are people in the TV industry that would have gone apeshit if that happened to them.

  • aSS

    Comedy and Jay Leno? LOL, Not funny

  • Jake R.

    i love that this site gives great news, but can it at least *pretend* to be objective once in a while? how about simply reporting news rather than editorializing it?

  • ben

    Leno is trash. I find the most inappropriate, offensive joke of the year not a rape joke or a joke about a shooting. It’s Leno making a joke at the expense of 20 people’s livelihoods. HA HA HA! REAL FUNNY! NBC made their bed.

  • Brett

    Unbelievable. The guy takes a huge paycut, doesn’t bitch about it other than making a perfectly appropriate joke, and this site still finds a way to shit on him. I’m not a fan of the guy, but c’mon.

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