LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Jay Leno has brushed off digs from Conan O‘Brien during NBC’s late-night talk show wars, saying he regarded them as jokes and just part of the comedy business.
Leno told Oprah Winfrey in an interview to be aired on Thursday that he had not spoken to O‘Brien since the public spat erupted because it “didn’t seem appropriate”.
“I don’t know,” Leno told her. “I think, let things cool down, and maybe we’ll talk.”
Leno was named last week as O‘Brien’s replacement on “The Tonight Show” after the red-headed comic signed a $32.5 million exit deal, ending 10 days of acrimonious on-air quips mostly aimed at Leno and the NBC network.
When Winfrey asked Leno if he felt O‘Brien had made hurtful comments, he responded, “No, they were jokes, and that’s OK.”
“It’s what we do,” Leno said. “It’s like being a fighter, and say when you got punched in the head did it hurt? Well, yeah, but you’re a fighter, that’s what you do.”
Excerpts of the interview were released on Wednesday.
O‘Brien ended his short-lived stint as “Tonight Show” host on Friday. Leno, who hosted “The Tonight Show” for 17 years until mid-2009, will return as host on March 1.
Despite the apparent late-night bitterness, NBC this week picked up an hour-long drama pilot from O‘Brien’s production company, Conaco.
The show is called “Justice,” and it is about a Supreme Court judge who leaves the court and starts his own legal practice.
Editing by Jill Serjeant