Jay Leno says farewell – again – to the Tonight Show desk on February 6, just four years after returning to the NBC show after the network booted him in favor of Conan O’Brien. “First time, I got blindsided,” Leno told 60 Minutes in an exit interview airing Sunday. The network gave him notice in 2004 that he’d be out after another four years. “‘You’re fired four years from right now,'” he recalled being told. “I said, ‘Sure.’ I said at the time I was going to do a half hour. And I believe Conan was going to follow later. He didn’t want to do that. He quit. And so they gave me the show back.” After a disastrous run on primetime in 2009 with The Jay Leno Show, NBC gave Leno back the Tonight Show chair. Last April they announced they were ousting Leno again in favor of the younger Jimmy Fallon. “It’s not my decision,” said Leno. “And I think I probably would have stayed if we didn’t have… an extremely qualified, young guy ready to jump in. If they said, ‘Look, you’re fired. We don’t know who we’re going to get. We don’t know what we’re going to put in there. But anybody but you, we just want you out of–‘ I would be hurt and offended. But this makes perfect sense to me. I understand this.”
Is Leno getting too old for this shtick? Leno, now in his mid-60s, tells CBS’s Steve Kroft that age is an understandable factor. “I get it, you know? Johnny was 66 when he left. I would be 64 when I leave. And that’s about right, you know? I really like Jimmy Fallon. I think he’s terrific. You know, when I see him do – a dance number with, you know, Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z or somebody, I go, ‘I can’t do that.'”
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