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April 5, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

NBC agreed to pay Jay Leno $15 million as a “sweetener” to encourage him to step down in February as host of the Tonight show and allow Jimmy Fallon to take over, the New York Daily News reported on Thursday, citing unnamed industry sources. Leno’s current contract expires in September, but NBC reportedly wanted to make the changeover in February so that it could be promoted during its coverage of the Winter Olympics. While the pay-off sounds steep — it’s comparable to what Leno earns yearly to host the late-night show — it is well known that Leno banks all of his NBC earnings and lives off the fees he receives from appearances in Las Vegas showrooms and comedy clubs. (Even his detractors concede that he is one of the hardest-working performers in the business.) Neither Leno nor NBC officials would discuss the report, but a source close to Leno disputed it, indicating that Leno merely had a “play or pay” clause in his contract, and that he would be paid until the end of his contract and would receive no severance bonus. Last year he reportedly agreed to cut his pay from $25 million in order to save the jobs of members of his staff. Meanwhile, the London Daily Mail reported that Jimmy Fallon will receive $12 million per year when he takes over Tonight. He currently earns $5 million per year year as host of Late Night.