Jay Leno On Letterman Scandal: "Dave Has Never Pretended To Be Mr. Moral America"
In a wide-ranging interview with trade publication Broadcasting & Cable, Jay Leno weighs in on everything from his negative press to his relationship with NBC affiliates to the sex scandal plaguing his old rival David Letterman.
When asked if he regretted moving to 10PM to host "The Jay Leno Show," Leno told B&C, "Would I have preferred to stay at 11:30? Yeah, sure. I would have preferred that. I think it's too soon to say whether I regret anything or not."
Leno also said that while he "wouldn't trade places with [Letterman] now for anything!" he doesn't believe the sex scandal will ultimately affect Letterman's reputation as he "never pretended to be Mr. Moral America":
He's not being a hypocrite; Dave has never set himself up as [a model citizen]. If it were me, it would kill me. I'm the guy who's been married 29 years. But Dave has never pretended to be Mr. Moral America, he's never set himself up that way. He's not a hypocrite. I don't know how it will be viewed. He doesn't do corporate days like me, he's not as advertiser-friendly as I am. I'm the guy when Coke or Pepsi is here, I come down and shake hands and take pictures, but he doesn't do that. I don't think it will have a big effect at all.
Leno also added that he phoned several NBC affiliates — rumored to be upset with his show as it bleeds viewers for the late-night local newscasts — and that the affiliates seem to be taking a long view on his performance.
"Unless they are the greatest actors in the world, they seem to be hanging in there and say they are in it for the long haul," Leno said. "I called Baltimore, Boston, the head of the affiliate board. They don't see it as dire as a lot of people are making it out to be....I think they seemed pleased that someone on at 10 o'clock is concerned about their well-being and their lead-in."