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David Letterman: Jay Leno Is "the Most Insecure Person I Have Ever Known"

And the feud goes on.

David Letterman and Jay Leno have been locked in a highly publicized rivalry for two decades now -- ever since Leno was named Johnny Carson's Tonight Show replacement over Letterman, who left NBC for CBS as a result of the snub. The battle between the two comedians is so famous that it was the subject of a 1996 HBO film, The Late Shift. But Letterman claims that their fallout is more complicated than some 20-year-old spat over a job.

In a new teaser for his sit-down with frenemy Oprah Winfrey -- with whom he had a 16-year feud beginning in 1989 -- Leno's rival opens up about his much-discussed relationship with his fellow comic and former pal. (The full Oprah's Next Chapter interview airs Jan. 6 on OWN.)

"We were always friends before all of this happened," the Late Show host, 65, tells Winfrey. "He has a way...he's an unusual fellow. I've never met anyone quite like Jay."

He goes on to add that despite their feud, he thinks Leno is "the funniest guy" he's ever known. "If you go to see him do his nightclub act, [he's] just the funniest, the smartest, a wonderful observationist, and very appealing as a comic," Letterman says.

High praise -- but there's a "but."

"Therefore, the fact that he is also maybe the most insecure person I have ever known...I could never reconcile that," the comic says.

by Anonymousreply 6012/30/2012

Dave interviews celebrities for a living so if he thinks Jay is insecure then he must be REALLY insecure.

by Anonymousreply 112/29/2012

Are they thinking of replacing Jay again?

Here we go again.

The New York Daily News reports that unnamed NBC executives have begun "quietly" exploring the option of replacing "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno with "Late Night" comedian Jimmy Fallon when Leno's contract expires in 2014.

Sound familiar? If the rumor proves correct, it would represent the third time that Jay Leno's "Tonight Show" throne is threatened by the host of "Late Night."

Original host David Letterman was widely seen as Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show" successor, and left NBC after being passed over for the job in favor of Leno in 1993. Letterman's "Late Night" replacement, Conan O'Brien, took over "Tonight" in 2009 for a mere 7 months, after which NBC reinstated Leno.

With Leno as host, "The Tonight Show" has since returned to the top of the ratings, although ratings for late night have declined across the board in recent years.

If Leno's ratings remain strong, pushing him out could present the same problems that occurred with the O'Brien debacle. As described in Bill Carter's "The War for Late Night," Leno was confused and hurt in 2004 when NBC brass informed him that O'Brien would take his job in five years, even though Leno's show was solidly number one.

The late night landscape has changed even since 2009. Next month, ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" will move from 12:35 to 11:35, thus becoming the first major network competition to Jay Leno and David Letterman. With both Leno and Letterman over 60 years old, the much younger Kimmel will provide a long-term strategy for ABC's late night programming.

Fallon, 38, would do the same for NBC. In addition to his relative youth, Fallon is the type of mainstream personality that would likely perform well at 11:35. He quickly defied expectations when taking over "Late Night" in 2009 by hosting one of the most buzzed-about shows on television, marked by song parodies, celebrity impressions and a loose, freewheeling tone. The show's house band, rock/R&B collective The Roots, has been crucial to the show's success.

In addition to ratings success (in November 2012, his show had 14 percent higher ratings than CBS competition "Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson"), he hosted the Emmys in 2010, and was invited to host the Academy Awards in 2013 (but declined).

But would Fallon want the earlier show? In an interview with Piers Morgan earlier this year, Fallon said that while he would not turn down the job were it offered, he did not consider it a "holy grail."

There's also the superstition factor. "If there's one thing I've learned from Dave and Conan, it's that hosting this show is a one-way ticket to not hosting 'The Tonight Show,'" Fallon joked.

The Daily News article is the most high profile press mention of Fallon's possible bid to host "The Tonight Show," although it's been widely expected that NBC has been grooming Fallon for the job. The story could hold special significance to Leno's career: Leno's late manager, Helen Kushnick, forced NBC's hand by planting an anonymously sourced article in The New York Post saying that NBC executives wanted Johnny Carson to leave "The Tonight Show," paving the way for Leno to take Carson's job.

by Anonymousreply 212/29/2012

But I hear repeatedly Letterman himself is a basket case with low self-esteem. Almost everyone who spoke about him at the Kennedy Center honors said as much.

I think he and Leno are two peas in a pod. They're both highly neurotic, insecure, ambitious types who worshipped Johnny Carson. The differences are that Jay for some reason clicks more with Joe Sixpack and Sally Housecoat, while Dave is much smarter and wittier. Oh, and Letterman is more loyal and honest, too.

by Anonymousreply 312/29/2012

Do you remember that when "Brokeback Mountain" was premiered in December, 2005? How Jay Leno took "humorous" shots at the picture's expense nearly every night for half of the month? I thought at the time, many retired oscar voters had time to watch late night talk shows. Also thought that was way too much negative attention to give the movie. Leno seemed obsessed with anything gay. What confused me was if he was gay-friendly as his obsession would lead one to believe, why the under-handed "humorous" remarks about "Brokeback Mountain"? His reaction does sound a bit insecure, to me.

by Anonymousreply 412/29/2012

Letterman seems more insecure than Leno.

by Anonymousreply 512/29/2012

Dave is more secure than Jay. Jay shoots for the lowest common denominator.

by Anonymousreply 612/29/2012

Haven't watched either of these trash talk shows in eons, but I don't get the hate for Leno. Letterman is a bitter, acidic old man who passed his prime when I was in college in the early 2000s.

by Anonymousreply 712/29/2012

R4 = Our eternally obsessed BBM queen.

by Anonymousreply 812/29/2012

Jesus christ, is he still on about that shit?

It's show business, emphasis on the business.

Time has proven Leno right. He is a middle-brow entertainer in a dying medium. His audience haven't moved on to other platforms, so he still does well in the ratings.

O'Brien's audience is much different, and narrower. Also, Mr. Harvard made a basic, rookie mistake that caused this shit: he didn't read and understand the terms of his contract. At the end of the day, it was right, but also cheaper for NBC to let Conan go.

The innocent act is bullshit. Gavin Polone is known as an aggressive advocate, which is why he was hired, but he fucked up big time.

All the animosity comes from all the bitter comedians of a certain age who regarded Leno as "the man" who sold out.

by Anonymousreply 912/29/2012

I think NBC is stuck with Jay.

If he leaves they'd have to pay him off with a huge non-compete fee. They wouldn't want to put Jimmy in Jay's place only to have Jay go over to ABC (Sorry, Jimmy) and have him get better ratings.

I didn't care for Jay's BBM 'jokes,' but middle America/flyover states seem to love him. He's like Mickey Mouse, safe and bland.

by Anonymousreply 1012/29/2012

r7 I think a lot of it comes from the fact that Leno was a hero to a generation of comics who were angry he sold out.

I've been a comedy fan forever, but I was too young to hear Leno in his prime. From what I've seen, though, he was much more polished than anyone else at the time.

by Anonymousreply 1112/29/2012

Well, at least Dave was funny at one time. Jay Leno has always sucked.

by Anonymousreply 1212/29/2012

Of course, Jay Leno is a total piece of shit. But Letterman is also notorious for being a real miserable asshole IRL.

by Anonymousreply 1312/29/2012

Actually, r13, I've heard good things about how Leno treats his staff. Could be planted, but it seemed genuine.

The whole sex with staff debacle showed how Letterman threw his whole writing/production staff into turmoil with his dick delusions.

I don't give a shit about it from a moral perspective, but he apparently lost a lot of good potential writers/producers.

by Anonymousreply 1412/29/2012

Letterman admits in that interview that he has suffered from depression his whole life. He says it was getting the shingles and birth of Harry that finally convinced him to go on medication.

I love how Letterman took on Romney. I do think he made a difference.

I've talked to people who have done a lot of business with him out in Montana. They really like and respect him out there. Not many outsiders get that kind of respect. And there's plenty of multimillioners trying to fit in. But they never do. But Letterman does.

He's neurotic and immature. But he's not a back stabber. I'll take Letterman over Leno any day.

by Anonymousreply 1512/29/2012

Oh! Oh! Carson hung up on me and we never spoke again! Oh, Missy! It is just..."

by Anonymousreply 1612/29/2012

My friend interned for Letterman in the 90s and he has nothing but great things to say about him. Letterman doesn't suffer fools. That's why some people find him to be a dick. Jay Leno steals jokes. There used to be a special light at Mitzi Shore's club and would go off when Leno or Robin Williams to alert the comedian onstage that one of them walked in and to switch their acts up so they wouldn't steal their new best jokes. Anyone remember that website, Dave's Basket? He's packing meat for days.

by Anonymousreply 1712/29/2012

Letterman never came across as Mr. Nice Guy. The guy might be an asshole off camera, but you can't say you're surprised. What you see has always been what you got.

Leno acts. Anyone who would throw their manager under the bus like that after all she had done for him is not a nice person. And there's too many stories in the industry about him for them all to be fake. Why did he abolish the guest host format that was a staple since Jack Paar?

R10 Leno's show is getting ratings, but even his are falling. He is not going to be able to call the shots for much longer. If he had a brain in his head, he'd realize he's been given a second chance to leave with some shred of dignity. (Since he pathetically pissed the first one away).

by Anonymousreply 1812/29/2012

I think what this basically means is that Jay Leno's contract is ending and NBC is going to stick to it this time. Remember how HORRIBLE it was having that pointy chinned baboon on from 10-11 every night until the ratings sank so low they had to pull that 'experiment?' It seems that there is no comparison as to who is the bigger dick between Leno and Letterman. Letterman is bright, plugged in, really cares about this country and has somewhat interesting guests. Leno is the LOWEST common denominator. Probably fraun masturbatory material for days.

by Anonymousreply 1912/29/2012

Leno was very vocal in his support for marriage equality when Prop 8 came up in California. He pointed to the success of gay marriage in his home state as an example of why there should be marriage equality for all.

by Anonymousreply 2012/29/2012

Justice for Conan!

by Anonymousreply 2112/29/2012

Letterman, Kimmel and Conan needs to get over this. It just makes them look like bitter crybabies. You would think that Leno slapped their grandmas and stole money from orphanages. It's business. It's messy, but that's the business they are in.

by Anonymousreply 2212/29/2012

They're all insecure, and they're all assholes.

That said, Letterman, Leno and Conan combined can't touch Carson for insecurity and being a royal asshole.

by Anonymousreply 2312/29/2012

R21, +1

by Anonymousreply 2412/29/2012

I think the only explanation for the fact that Leno has a job is that he gives good head. There is an exec at NBC who appreciates this, which is the only reason some of us are employed.

by Anonymousreply 2512/29/2012

Oh! Oh! Why won't Johnny return my calls or buy my shit on QVC? It is...

by Anonymousreply 2612/29/2012

Jay Leno also took a pay cut so his staff don't lose their jobs. That says something about the man.

It is peculiar why NBC would want to replace Leno with Fallon considering that Jay's ratings are solid. Wonder what's going on behind the scenes? Has Leno stood in the way of an aggressive NBC executive who wants to downsize The Tonight Show staff?

by Anonymousreply 2712/29/2012

How did Conan's name get in here? He's not the one out there giving interviews about what happened three years ago. He's over it now.

by Anonymousreply 2812/29/2012

I read on a website that Dave has a 9 incher.

by Anonymousreply 2912/29/2012

[quote]I love how Letterman took on Romney. I do think he made a difference.

Oh please. Some of you are so out of touch, it's frightening.

by Anonymousreply 3012/29/2012

Hey Dave, Jay got the job.

by Anonymousreply 3112/29/2012

Leno still makes Clinton jokes.

by Anonymousreply 3212/29/2012

If his contract is up in 2014, they just won't renew this time. No muss, no fuss.

The real issue will be how the new bosses are treating the network in general. Finding a replacement is not going to be easy if they are giving shows to people they think are edgy/trendy like Whitney Cummings.

r17, if he's such a joke thief, how come no one will publicly call him on it? I don't mean that in a dickish, rhetorical way--I genuinely wonder.

Robin Williams has been called out for it, Mencia, Leary, etc. I've never heard any specific allegations about Leno. With all the personal animosity against him, I'm surprised it hasn't happened.

by Anonymousreply 3312/29/2012

Is "Oprah" the African word for yenta?

by Anonymousreply 3412/29/2012

[quote]if he's such a joke thief, how come no one will publicly call him on it? I don't mean that in a dickish, rhetorical way--I genuinely wonder.

See link.

by Anonymousreply 3512/29/2012


by Anonymousreply 3612/29/2012

Male comics are some of the most insecure, emasculated, angry, attention-craving assholes you could ever meet.

by Anonymousreply 3712/29/2012

Dave should talk!

He is the most vindictive, hateful and insecure person.

Despite his great success, he is STILL bitter and hating on Jay.

This stupid feud is so old. Dave is no longer hip and has not been funny for decades.

Oh, yeah, Dave is homophobic, too. Jay has always been pro gay and has supported gay marriage from the beginning and was a mentor to Ross "The Intern."

by Anonymousreply 3812/29/2012

r3 said it best.

I can't watch Leno, ever.

Dave is pretty fucked up and neurotic, but he is integrated as a personality.

Leno is like a father that you never got to know, but in business played dirty with a simpering smile. His secrets are deeper yet more dull.

by Anonymousreply 3912/29/2012

Still bitter after all these years. How pathetic.

by Anonymousreply 4012/29/2012

Yeah, Letterman is so homophobic, he has an out lesbian producer (Barbara Gaines), whose marriage to her partner he acknowledged on the air.

Also, Tony "Inky" Mendez, his cue card man, is openly gay.

The only thing about letterman that resembles homophobia is the fact that he gets annoyed and creeped out by Richard Simmons. Well, who can blame him?

by Anonymousreply 4112/29/2012

There hasn't been an original comedian since Phyllis Diller.

"The other day I bought one of those Peek-a-boo dresses. Everyone peeked and then they booed."

She still cracks me up after all these years. I wish they would do a bio-pic on her.

by Anonymousreply 4212/29/2012

Out of all the late night talk shows, only Craig's should be around.

They all need to let it go and retire.

by Anonymousreply 4312/29/2012

David's homophobic schtick is well known. Even Jim Carrey called him out during one of his interviews. See link for another one with Regis...

David is so not funny. He comes across bitter and superior with almost all of his guests.

by Anonymousreply 4412/29/2012

Wow r44, I've never seen that Jim Carrey comment. Good for him, I'm happy he called him out.

by Anonymousreply 4512/29/2012

What is the story about Dave coldly ignoring his guests before and after their appearances and even in between during commercial breaks? Apparently, guests are forewarned so they are not taken aback. But he has next to no social interaction with them beyond what is seen on camera. Has anyone else heard this?

by Anonymousreply 4612/29/2012

I used to watch Dave when he had Richard Simmons and that old fat guy that you couldn't tell if he was a man or woman from the 1-800-COLLECT commercials. Then I found Jay after the Monica Lewinsky scandal. I stayed with him until 2006 when I stopped watching late night network talk shows regularly. Does anyone remember when Ross met Matt Lauer? Ross asked him for advice to get a girlfriend. Matt's eyes bugged out. This was early when Ross got his guest spot on The Tonight Show. That was a funny moment I'll remember. Do you remember when Ross was in Turino for the 2006 Winter Olympics. He was touring one of the villages with Brian Boitano. Ross was speaking so loudly. It embarassed Brian and he told him to talk quietly. I don't think Brian is comfortable with his sexuality. Jay has a much better rapport with people which makes it easier to watch him.

by Anonymousreply 4712/29/2012

Dave is SO not homophobic. He has most likely had a dick in his mouth at some point in his life, too. When he DOES make a "gay joke" it is usually pretty damned funny, like asking Regis "Are you a homosexual?" After Regis ranted on and on about sharing a vacation together in Montana! It was an easy joke to make and Philibin handed it to him. Philbin is always making veiled gay references to Dave about being attracted to him, etc. He and Dave are great friends.

by Anonymousreply 4812/29/2012

Letterman is not homophobic anymore. Why is it difficult for fags to accept that this is all a process for straight people, and hardest for the men.

Letterman used to do a mincing voice and had old timey Carson like sketches not too flattering to gay men.

He has evolved with time and no doubt always had gay people on his staff. Why are we so reluctant to understand that straight men have required an evolution of thought about gay people, their place in society, and our rights?

Dave has made a lot of fat jokes and was once pretty damn leering with hot women. Bill Maher is a much better example of a fully accepting guy of gays and I doubt that he believes in marriage for anyone. Everyone had become so side tracked in gay life. The right to marry will not change the inherent differences of the small percentage of the population that is gay. Individuals do that in their own families and communities and with some help from the popular culture. Support of gay marriage is a pretty facile way to decide if a celebrity is gay positive. Yeah, this is my opinion.

Leno is seen as more innocuous, yet still goes for the cheapest and most unfunny jokes about everyone. Leno is a sheep which is how so many gays like their everday straight people to be.

Jay Leno would come out in favor of bestiality if that was the way the wind was blowing.

Fake, fake, fake.

He probably does support gay rights and his wife is a feminist activist, but he is still a simpering syphilitic clown, making the most reductive statements about women and gay men.

Give me the more complex character of Letterman anyday. It takes everyday personal exposure to gay people to understand that we are the same in all the important ways, and different in funny ways. Letterman clearly struggled and changed, but not because of popular pressure.

Leno belongs with minstrel gays like Elton John and then he can show his "acceptance", and make his bum fuck jokes.

Plus Letterman is goofy in an old uncle way, and dead serious and smart when he wants to be.

by Anonymousreply 4912/29/2012

Letterman's one to talk - he's the one who keeps dragging this feud on and on. I'm sure Jay isn't as nicey-nice as he makes himself out to be, but he can't be any worse than Letterman's arrogant, rude self.

In fact, I don't like any of the US late night hosts (Conan, Kimmel, Letterman, or Leno). The only decent one is Jimmy Fallon.

by Anonymousreply 5012/29/2012

Well, time for the only sentence in this article that you bunch of clear showbiz insiders missed:

[quote]In addition to ratings success (in November 2012, his show had 14 percent higher ratings than CBS competition "Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson"

Really? So, for all the Fallon hype, his ratings are only 14% higher than the awful Craig Ferguson?

That's a success? That's a breakaway? That's anything?

We're talking about a 0.6 versus a 0.5. Less than that.

Conan's ratings were marginally lower than Jay's during his tenure hosting the Tonight Show. And understandably so, as it was a transition of hosts. Jay's were as well when he took over for Johnny.

Jay did not get the Tonight Show back because Conan was tanking and they needed him to save the ratings. He got it back because the deal he negotiated to host his awful Jay Leno Show was too expensive to jettison, and he was costing the network a fortune with his failure. It was cheaper to screw over Conan and give Jay back the Tonight Show than simply let Jay go.

In the end, it may have been the right move, business-wise. Conan may wind up being the less-than-indispensible man. Will Jay give up the Tonight Show in two years? Will the same audience that tunes in for him every night tune in for a 40 year old man-boy? We'lllllll seeeee.

But all you need to know to know that this is all bullshit, hype, and hair-splitting, is to see that Fallon is somehow being trumpeted as a big hit over Craig, when his ratings are a rounding error higher.

Kimmel has the total potential to take over late night and everyone knows it. Whatever "late night" is worth any more. That whole concept may be over.

by Anonymousreply 5112/29/2012

[R50] I watch Jay but Fallon is the man.

by Anonymousreply 5212/29/2012

[R8] I strongly think that I'm more masculine than you'll ever be! I come from country similar to that of "Brokeback Mountain". Was cutting cords of wood before I became a teenager. I could walk all day long if need be. Have been in 70 degrees, and lower weather. Served my country for 6 years as a hospital corpsman with the marines. I could go on and on. So no, I am not, and have never been a queen!

I'd have respected Leno more if he was as masculine as Ennis and Jack!

by Anonymousreply 5312/30/2012

Get her.

by Anonymousreply 5412/30/2012

Sounds like you better not say that in his presence!

by Anonymousreply 5512/30/2012

r53, you complained about the homophobic jokes that Leno made about Brokeback, and I agree he makes tons of homophobic jokes and it's pathetic for any gay person to like him. Actually it's pathetic for anyone to like him because he's so unfunny. But didn't you notice that Letterman was doing the same thing with Brokeback? He was obsessed with it, making BBM jokes on a nearly nightly basis. And it was leering and childish and could be described as phobic, but the jokes were popular and people were saying that it was contributing to the movie's popularity. He does need to grow up and stop snickering every time the subject comes though, as when Jim Carrey told him off about it.

by Anonymousreply 5612/30/2012

I was gonna say the same thing, R56.

Letterman couldn't even bring himself to name the film after a while (BBM), he just referred to it as "the gay cowboy movie" with a look of disdain, "like we need more of those?!"

He's clearly homophobic.

by Anonymousreply 5712/30/2012

And little has changed r57, he made a bunch of bull-dyke jokes about Rosie finding a new partner. I don't like Rosie but that was over-the-line, Rosie was furious and said it really hurt her feelings. And when Cher was on recently, they were discussing Chaz, and Dave said he thought gay people having a sex-change was too extreme. Is he really that dumb that he thinks transsexuals are just gay people going to extremes? Who knows, but he's certainly not comfortable with or progressive on the subject at all.

by Anonymousreply 5812/30/2012

"Why is it difficult for fags to accept that this is all a process for straight people, and hardest for the men."

And when will you decide whether or not to start this process, I wonder?

by Anonymousreply 5912/30/2012


I have started the process and know my identity. Man first, Italian second, son/ brother third, gay forth. Lover.

Identity is not so difficult when you have confidence and understanding of the world around you. I know it is harder for some, but this is my truth.

My lover is black, and neither of us think to consider the majorities' ignorance or misinformation as a personal slight or insult to us. We do correct them. Culturally and as masculine men perhaps we are different or more confident than some gay men?

I am a musician, who works as an accompanist to some very well known artists and my partner is a dancer. So we are very gay men too.

But we have not the narrow focus of so many. Live your life, correct things you don't like directly and hope that others can appreciate you. Never lie or apologize. Be yourself, but why expect everyone else to change, especially those not close?

Be honourable, take the money, embrace family but don't always look for full support. Beware looking to the gay community as the accepting culture, because in many ways they are the least so.

We are Canadian. Not many are offended. What do you think I need to accept ? I kiss my BF on the street anyday we are together, and we are welcomed everywhere.

Are we fully accepted everywhere, most likely not. I seldom think about it, but get excited sometimes - capisce? We are godparents to nieces and nephews on both sides of our family and can get married any day we choose.

You get the picture. I will never understand why 3 percent of the population expects the rest of the world to understand everything that offends them. If the offense is egregious, there are several ways to deal with it.

There is worse oppression and judgement from within the gay community than from the straight folks in my experience. So many gay men suffer in the world compared to us or you. We do what we can to be activists for those who cannot imagine our comfort and freedom.

Oh, yeah....I like Letterman too.

Best wishes to you.

by Anonymousreply 6012/30/2012
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