Jay Leno gets last laugh on joke books
By Steve Gorman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno got the last laugh on Wednesday in his legal battle with the creator of numerous joke books filled with stolen gags and punch lines.
The publishers of such compendiums as "Jokes to Go," "Comedy Thesaurus" and "The Funny Pages" vowed to immediately stop printing and distributing the books in a settlement with Leno and fellow comedians who sued author Judy Brown.
Under the legal deal announced by Leno's lawyers, Brown and her publishers also agreed to pay monetary compensation, and she apologized to the entertainers whose jokes she copied. Financial terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
"In my books, I have published jokes of Jay Leno and the other comedians in this lawsuit without their permission," Brown said in a statement. "I sincerely apologize for doing so. I greatly admire the creativity, wit and energy of stand-up comedians, and I recognize that comedy is as much an art form as other types of creative expression."
Leno was joined as a plaintiff in the copyright suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles in November 2006, by such stand-up comics as Rita Rudner, Jimmy Brogan and Bob Ettinger, as well as by NBC Studios, which produces "The Tonight Show."
Leno and Rudner plan to donate all their proceeds to charity, said his attorney, Theodore Boutrous.
"We got everything we wanted and could have asked for through the settlement," he told Reuters.
According to Boutrous, Brown filled her books with thousands of jokes taken from Leno and other professional comics, many of them not a party to the suit, including NBC "Late Night" host Conan O'Brien, Leno's CBS rival, David Letterman, and Comedy Central funnyman Jon Stewart. Continued...