Jay Leno Tells Joy Behar ‘Conan Got Screwed’

Backstage at 'The Tonight Show,' Behar interviewed the host about the late-night battle.

It has been a month since Jay Leno returned to his seat behind the desk of “The Tonight Show,” following a prolonged three-way battle between himself, former “Tonight Show” host Conan O’Brien and NBC. Since O’Brien closed up shop, he has started one of the best Twitter feeds on the Internet and is about to embark on a national tour (cleverly dubbed the Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television Tour ). Meanwhile, Leno surged ahead of longtime rival David Letterman in the ratings, and he remains willing to speak out about the fiasco that unfolded at the beginning of the year.

“The View” host Joy Behar was a guest on “The Tonight Show” on Tuesday, and in a behind-the-scenes video blog she filed for CNN, Leno spoke frankly about what happened at NBC.

“Conan got screwed,” he said. “I got screwed. I mean, this is TV. The reason show business pays a lot of money is so when you get screwed, you’ve got something left over. If you’re a nurse or a cop and you get screwed out of your pension, you’re screwed out of your pension. On TV, at least you walk away with some money.”

Leno told Behar that he feels bad about how O’Brien was treated and hopes that the spirit of competition between them will continue. “Conan was treated terribly, and I was treated terribly. I think Conan will come back and he’ll be strong, and we’ll all compete against one another. It should be me against Letterman against Conan against [Jimmy] Kimmel, and then we’ll see who wins.”

Behar then called Kimmel “a bit of a turncoat,” referring to the incident in January when he went on “The Jay Leno Show” and slammed the host . But Leno is letting that water flow under the bridge. “What are you gonna go? Welcome to showbiz,” he said. “All comics are friends. When you go on stage, your job is to blow the other guy off the stage. I get it! That’s the way it works. You don’t impede someone else’s opportunity, but when you go out there, that’s what you do.”

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