In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, NBC officials confirmed reports that Tonight Show host Jay Leno took a 50 percent pay cut last month. The move was part of a highly-publicized downsizing that cut the show’s $100 million budget by 20 percent. In addition to Leno’s salary decrease (he now makes about $15 million a year), the cost-cutting included 20 layoffs.
In the WSJ story, NBC entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt said the show’sbudget increased by “tens of millions” of dollars when it moved to the ill-fated 10 p.m. primetime slot in 2009. The current shakeups are the result of reverting the budget back to its original late-night numbers.
Leno, who still garners more viewers than younger competitors such as Jimmy Kimmel and Jon Stewart, has voiced his frustration during the show’s opening monologues: “Welcome to The Tonight Show, or as Comcast calls us, The Expendables!… We’ve consistently been No. 1 in the ratings. And if you know anything about our network, that kind of thing is frowned upon.”
Is Leno still an overpaid fat cat? Or does this sizable pay cut show — which likely helped keep a few staffers on the payroll — that the guy’s a mensch after all? Cast your vote now!