Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Jay Leno: Howard Stern's Move To Sirius "Seemed A Mistake"

(image via tvjab)

And so it begins. The simmering hatred between Howard Stern and Jay Leno has been on the low burner right beneath the surface of the entertainment industry. No two comedians are better matched to do gladiatorial combat -- Stern is the heavyweight champion of early morning radio -- one of the highest paid performers ever -- and Jay Leno rules the night. Until now Leno, who purloined Stern employee "Stuttering John," has maintained the high ground, allowing Stern to gripe at him from his Sirius radio show and on Letterman appearances.

The pendulum swings. As Leno prepares to move to prime time, Leno is now openly talking smack about Stern. Oh, it's on ... It's on like Gray Poupon! From Bill Carter of the NYTimes:

"In his first interview since announcing that he would remain with NBC, Jay Leno spoke with Bill Carter about the creation of his new prime-time series, tentatively titled 'The Jay Leno Show.' In these exclusive outtakes from that interview, Mr. Leno spoke further about his broadcast-industry colleagues (and sometime rivals) David Letterman and Howard Stern, and why it might have been safer to stay in late night than move to prime time.

"... Yet Mr. Leno clearly had no interest in stepping away from television. 'I’m old enough to realize there’s only so many years left,' Mr. Leno said. 'I kind of watched Howard Stern. On radio, Howard to me was a populist. The truck driver, the average guy would listen in the cafĂ©, the truck, the old car that’s 50 years old and still has an AM radio. Then he went to Sirius and obviously it was a lot of money. But I don’t hear him quoted anymore. People don’t say: ‘Hey, did you hear what Howard said today?’ And I’m sure he’s still doing what he always does. But to me that seemed a mistake.'"

Leno's attack on Howard Stern's salary and his populism is clearly the fundament in which the two will spar. It stems from last week's attack of Leno on the Stern show, which is listened to by almost everyone on late night. From Marksfriggin:

"Howard said he was going to talk about NBC getting rid of Jay Leno. He said that they've never seen a show that successful where he beats every other guy in that time slot and the network is letting him go. He said he doesn't get why they would do something like that. Howard said he was going to talk about this the other day. Howard said he thinks that NBC won't let Leno go and they'll just pay off Conan.

"Howard said that Jay is such a douche bag. He said he could be getting like $50-60 million but he sticks with the 40 that he's getting. Howard said that skeeves him out. He said that makes him think that the guy is even stranger than he originally thought. Howard said Jay still does stand-up comedy and claims he lives off of that money and not the money he's making on The Tonight Show."

Let the games begin! What makes this brewing feud so delicious is the fact that both Leno and Stern are practically undefeated alpha males -- Leno beat Letterman; and Stern has beaten virtually everyone except Lorne Michaels. Since Stern's contract expires in 2010, and it seems as if he'll leave Sirius-XM, it might be interesting to see if any of the networks or syndicates decide to put Stern up against Leno in that 10 pm time slot.

New Corsair posts here.

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