NBC is finally confirming publicly that Jay Leno took a 50% pay cut — or $15 million on his $30 million salary. That helped NBC slash the Tonight Show‘s $100M budget by about 20%. Deadline scooped first news of Leno’s pay cut to prevent more than 20 staff layoffs on the show. Now NBC’s entertainment chief Robert Greenblatt confirms that number to the Wall Street Journal. At the same time, Leno extended his contract for another 2 years to May 2014. So much for Leno taking swipes at Comcast/NBCU over the layoffs. Greenblatt told WSJ there’s no date yet for Leno to leave. “That’s a conversation we’ll have as we look down the road. I’m sure there will be a day when these guys — Letterman and Leno — wake up and say, ‘It’s time for us to exit gracefully.'”
Greenblatt also confirmed the Tonight Show cuts were aimed at reversing tens of millions of dollars in budget increases implemented in 2009 when Leno’s show was moved to primetime briefly and kept when it moved back to late night. Greenblatt said that when he noticed the bulge in Tonight’s budget last spring, “I went to [Leno’s] office and we sat down and I said, ‘We have to be smart about how we do this show. We are in a difficult place at the network’…He understood.”
Greenblatt claimed the Tonight Show is “not the cash cow it was in the Johnny Carson days” although it’s still profitable. “Everything is less profitable these days, including the prime-time schedule.”
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.