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April 30, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Jay Leno has repeatedly said that the ribbing he took from fellow comics during the fiasco that saw Conan O’Brien step down as host of the Tonight show and Leno return to the show was merely a matter of comedians doing what comes naturally. “All comedians are friends, but when you go onstage your job is to blow the other guys off the stage,” he told Joy Behar on HLN last month. “I get it. That’s the way it works.” But, uncharacteristically, Conan O’Brien was not attempting to be funny when he discussed Leno’s conduct with Steve Kroft in an interview that is set to air on CBS’s 60 Minutes on Sunday. “If I had surrendered The Tonight Show and handed it over to somebody publicly and wished them well, and then, six months later. …” O’Brien did not complete the sentence, He interrupted himself to say, “But that’s me, you know. Everyone’s got their own, you know, way of doing things.” O’Brien also observed that it would have cost NBC as much as $150 million to remove Leno from his 10:00 p.m. show if it could find no other place for him — more than three times the payout that he himself eventually received. Later in the interview, he said, “He went and took that show back and I think in a similar situation, if roles had been reversed, I know — I know me, I wouldn’t have done that.” When Kroft asked whether Leno had acted less than honorably, O’Brien replied, “I can’t answer that,” an apparent reference to the non-disparagement clause in his exit contract. Meanwhile, the website noted on Thursday that for the third week in a row, Leno’s Tonight show ratings among adults 18-49 precisely equaled O’Brien’s in the same week of each show’s run.