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January 26, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Jay Leno has indicated that he agreed to step down as host of The Tonight Show six months before his contract was due to expire after NBC promised to continue to pay him and all his staff for the duration of the contract. Leno’s disclosure during an interview with the Hollywood Reporter came as he appeared to sidestep a question about a dinner meeting he had with NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt after Leno joked about the network’s low ratings. “What happened at that dinner?” Leno was asked. He replied, “What did we talk about? The fact that my staff would be paid through September, so everybody’s taken care of — whatever I got, everybody else should get. That was pretty much what it was.” NBC has acknowledged that it wanted to give Fallon the benefit of the bigger lead-in audience that the Winter Olympics audience will likely provide. Leno said that when NBC executives brought their plan to him, he replied, “OK, we’ll go six months early and give Jimmy a good launching.” Leno told THR that he has no current plans to return to television after he steps down to do a “Tonight Show Lite,” but instead will, at least for the time being, concentrate on his separate vocation as a stand-up comic. “I was a stand-up comedian first and then I got this job, and I still do at least two or three dates a week. It’ll be kind of fun to be on the road as a comedian again,” he said. When asked when he plans to make a decision on what else he will do, he replied, “Not for awhile. I’ll tell you something: I was in Atlantic City on a Saturday night [not too long ago] and I went down to the local comedy club and went out to eat with a bunch of new comics. We just sat and talked about comedy. I thought, ‘This is fun.’” Summing up his late-night show career, Leno remarked, “People can debate whether something was funny or not funny — it’s pretty subjective — but what you can’t change are the numbers. My job was to have the No. 1 show. I was given the No. 1 talk show and for the last 20 years, we’ve been the No. 1 talk show all the way through. That’s what you look at.”