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Leno: I Won't Do Another Late-Night Show

By Greg Richter   |   Sunday, 26 Jan 2014 08:37 PM

Outgoing "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno tells "60 Minutes" he won't do another late-night show once he hands over the reins of "The Tonight Show" to his successor, Jimmy Fallon.

"You can't recreate what we had at 'The Tonight Show,'" he told interviewer Steve Kroft. Plus, he said, there has been a generational and technological shift that he can't keep up with. He doesn't know, for instance, what Justin Bieber's latest single is.

But he isn't averse to doing something on a cable channel, and he still love doing live standup on the road.

Still, Leno said he was "blindsided" when he was fired from his dream job.

Leno compared the firing to a romantic breakup.

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"You know, you have a girl [who] says, 'I don't want to see you anymore.' Why? You know, she doesn't want to see you anymore, OK?" Leno told Kroft.

It was the second time Leno had lost the "Tonight Show" gig. In 2004, NBC announced "Late Night" host Conan O'Brien would be taking over the show in 2009. Five years later, Leno wasn't ready to retire, so NBC gave him a prime-time show at 10 p.m. Monday through Friday.

It was essentially the same "Tonight Show" he had been doing since taking over from Johnny Cars on in 1992 with a new name: "The Jay Leno Show."

But both Leno's and O'Brien's ratings flagged and Leno was brought back to "The Tonight Show" after only seven months. O'Brien moved to TBS.

Leno was upset at being portrayed as the bad guy in the dustup.

"I didn't quite understand that, but I never chose to answer any of those things or make fun of any other people involved," he said. "It's not my way."

He did, though, share advice he likes to give to up-and-comers: "I always tell new people in show business, 'Look, show business pays you a lot of money because eventually you're gonna get screwed. And when you get screwed you will have this pile of money off to the side."

Fallon, Leno said, has been "I thought Jimmy's been extremely gracious and polite" during the transition.

"You said all of the same things exactly about Conan," Kroft told him.

"Huh? Did I say all the same things? Well, maybe I did," Leno answered, laughing, "Well, we'll see what happens."

Fallon takes over "The Tonight Show" on February 17.

"It's not my decision, and I think I probably would have stayed if we didn't have an extremely qualified, young guy ready to jump in. [Fallon] is probably more like a young Johnny [Carson] than almost anybody since. And he's really good," he said. "So you go with the new guy. Makes perfect sense to me."

Kroft also interviewed Leno for "60 Minutes" when he took over the reins of "The Tonight Show" in 1992.

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