Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune is watching Jay Leno’s appearance on Oprah (which doesn’t air around here until the afternoon) and she’s live-blogging some of his self-defensive comments.
Much of what he says is basically true, albeit one-sided and phrased in such a way to make him sound — as always — like the victim. So while he doesn’t try to sugarcoat the failure of The Jay Leno Show, he also portrays himself as the little guy up against the big behemoths on the other networks:
As for competing in the prime-time arena, it was difficult, Leno said, especially given that other networks banned their actors from going on Leno’s new show.
“It’s a lot more competitive. If I’m in late night, I know I’m competing with Dave [Letterman] every night. … We could book against [other late-night shows]. To book [guests] against the ‘CSI’ evil twin episode, that’s going to be very hard to do.”
“Why do you think the show failed?” Oprah asked.
“I think the show failed because it was basically a late-night talk show at 10 o’clock. You’re competing with dramas that are $3 to $6 million an episode,” Leno said.
The weirdest moment, from reading it, is where he says that he was lying (“a white lie”) in 2004 when he said he was going to retire, and that he always figured he would probably get a job on another network. I don’t know how that makes him sound good, but he seems to think it does.
Ryan is also responsible for the recent long, in-depth interview with Lost creators Lindelof and Cuse, all three parts of which are well worth reading.