Former “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno — who successfully pulled off the impossible, following up the inimitable Johnny Carson — says he doesn’t miss his late-night hosting gig because now “everyone has to know your politics.” The current hosts, he suggested, have failed to learn what he learned from Carson: not to let yourself appear to be “one-sided.”
In an exchange during his appearance on NBC’s “TODAY” Tuesday highlighted by The Hill, the hosts of the show began by saying, “So it’s been five years since you left ‘The Tonight Show,’ and you see the place we are right now in this country. Do you miss being on the show? Or is it such a different time that it would be hard to do?”
“No, it’s different — I don’t miss it,” said Leno. “You know, everything now is if people don’t like your politics — everyone has to know your politics.”
“I kind of used Johnny ’s model,” he explained. “People couldn’t figure out: ‘Well, you and your Republican friends…’ or ‘Well, Mr. Leno, you and your Democratic buddies…’ And I would get hate mail from both sides equally. And I went, ‘Well that’s fabulous! That’s exactly what I want.'”
The hosts reacted enthusiastically to Leno’s response.
“But when people see you as one-sided, it just makes it tough,” Leno said. “And plus, I did it when, you know, Clinton was horny and Bush was dumb, and it was just a little easier,” he added, a line that got more laughs from the NBC team. – READ MORE