This is no laughing matter for late night host Jay Leno.As part of NBC’s budget-chopping effort last month at “The Tonight Show,” NBC confirmed to The Wall Street Journal Leno will receive a 50 per cent pay cut.
The cut, which will bring Leno’s personal paycheck down to about $15 million, will help NBC slash the show’s $100 million annual budget by about 20 per cent.
In addition to Leno’s lowered fee, the network confirmed that 20 writers and producers had also lost their jobs due to budget cuts—reducing the show’s staff to about 200.
But despite the pay decrease and job cuts, Leno still signed on to extend his contract for another two years through May 2014.
In an interview with WSJ, NBC entertainment chief, Robert Greenblatt suggested that the budget had increased by “tens of millions” of dollars in its move to 10 p.m. “All we did was bring it back down to pre-primetime levels,” Greenblatt explained.
Greenblatt confirmed to WSJ, “Tonight” is “not the cash cow it was in the Johnny Carson days,” although he did say it was still profitable and still beating competition like Jimmy Kimmel, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert in the ratings.
But Leno is still optimistic for the late night show’s future, writing in an email to WSJ, “We are just going to work harder and more efficiently … our job is to be sure that none of this shows up on screen.”
As for what happens after Leno’s current contract is up in 2014, Greenblatt says, “That’s a conversation we’ll have as we look down the road … I’m sure there will be a day when these guys—Letterman and Leno—wake up and say, ‘It’s time for us to exit gracefully.'”
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