Leno says in an interview with '60 Minutes' that his upcoming exit is not his decision either, but understands why NBC wants to replace him with Jimmy Fallon.
Jay Leno will appear on CBS' "60 Minutes" this weekend, discussing his past and impending exits from "The Tonight Show". "I was blindsided... [NBC executives said], 'You're out,' and I went 'okay,' " he tells Steve Kroft about being replaced by Conan O'Brien in 2009 in an interview that will air Sunday, January 26 at 7/6c.
"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?" he explains, adding that he "didn't quite understand" why people portrayed him as the bad guy when NBC dumped O'Brien. "I never chose to answer any of those things or make fun of any other people involved," he argues, "It's not my way."
Leno admits that his impending exit was not his decision either. "I think I probably would have stayed if we didn't have an extremely qualified, young guy ready to jump in. Sure, I probably would have stayed a little longer," he says when asked if he would've liked to stay.
Still, the veteran host has no hard feelings toward his successor Jimmy Fallon. "[Fallon] is probably more like a young Johnny [Carson] than almost anybody since," he praises the current "Late Night" show host. "And he's really good. So you go with the new guy. Makes perfect sense to me."
Leno reportedly also says that he doesn't plan to host another late-night show after leaving "Tonight". He tells Kroft that his 22-year run was "fantastic," but he can't re-create what he had as "Tonight" host with another show.
Leno is next scheduled to appear together with Fallon for a joint interview on "Today" Monday, January 27.
Fallon will take over "Tonight" hosting gig starting February 17 with Will Smith as his first guest and U2 as a musical guest. First Lady Michelle Obama has just been announced to be his guest on his first week as Leno's successor.