Jay Leno’s blitz of interviews in advance of his mandatory retirement from The Tonight Show reminds us that a graceful exit is hard to do — especially when people won’t let you.
Anyone expecting or wanting some sour chin music from the iconic comedian during his much-hyped appearance on Sunday’s 60 Minutes was probably disappointed. But it was tart enough, thanks to Steve Kroft’s decision to cast Leno’s story as a cultural flashpoint for a seismic generational shift, with aging baby boomers ceding/losing power to their kids and grandkids. CBS never accused NBC of ageism, but it used some choice factoids and soundbites from Leno to suggest that the network wasn’t doing right by its good and faithful servant, still the No. 1 player in late night. Following an intro in which Kroft cited research showing Leno to be the fifth most popular personality on TV and pitched his twilight-of-the-boomers premise, the piece proper began with Leno — jokingly — telling the story that he says he tells any newbie in the business, that the reason why showbiz pays so well is because “eventually, you are going to get screwed. That’s the way it works… That’s the way these things are.” No effort was made to define “it” or put “these things” in context (or ask NBC for comment) or what fairness looks like or should look like in an ad-supported business in which not all demographic groups are monetized equally. Leno might be the fifth most popular personality on television, but these days, that distinction comes with a trail of tiny little asterisks. READ FULL STORY