NBC: Jay Leno Took Pay Cut To Stem ‘The Tonight Show’ Layoffs
CNN reports that 20-25 members of The Tonight Show staff were laid off in a cost cutting move by NBC, but there would have been even more layoffs had host Jay Leno not stepped up to take a $15 million pay cut.
An NBC Universal representative confirmed Friday to CNN that Leno took a 50-percent pay cut, and also extended his contract as host of the popular late-night show through 2014. Though The Tonight Show remains the most popular of the late shows, financially it only breaks even, the L.A. Times reported. Among the reasons for that, is that Leno’s staff and budget were not reduced when he moved back into The Tonight Show slot after hosting the prime time Jay Leno Show.
A Leno spokesperson confirmed the pay cut as well, but not the specifics of how much.
“Jay’s foremost concern is for the wonderful people who work for The Tonight Show,” Bruce Bobbins told the L.A. Times. “He did what was necessary to ensure their well-being.”
Leno took over hosting The Tonight Show from the legendary Johnny Carson in 1992 and held the job for 17 years before handing the show off to Conan O’Brien. But Leno wasn’t done with television yet, first trying his hand in prime time with the ill-fated Jay Leno Show, and eventually taking his old job back from Conan. O’Brien now hosts Conan, a late-night show on TBS.
The staff cuts have helped reduce Leno’s budget for The Tonight Show from $2.3 to $1.7 million which is more in line with what it was before his move to prime time.