Jay Leno denies he ‘deliberately sabotaged’ Conan O’Brien’s The Tonight Show hosting gig

More than a decade after Jay Leno left and returned to The Tonight Showthe comedian has denied claims he sabotaged fellow late-night host Conan O’Brien‘s shot with the program.

In May 2009, the 72-year-old parted from The Tonight Show – now hosted by Jimmy Fallon – after 17 years and started hosting The Jay Leno Show at an earlier time on NBC, the same network.

O’Brien took over hosting duties of The Tonight Show after Leno’s departure, but ratings for both shows declined, and in 2010, Leno returned to host The Tonight Show until 2014.

Now, Leno has addressed the long-held speculation he played a part in ending O’Brien’s short-lived hosting stint on the program that became synonymous with Leno. Watch what he said above.

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Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien
Conan O’Brien briefly replaced Jay Leno on The Tonight Show before Leno replaced his replacement. (Getty)

“It doesn’t work that way. You try and do the best you can, and it didn’t work,” Leno said in a recent interview with Bill Maher on his Random Club podcast.

After Leno returned to The Tonight ShowO’Brien left NBC – the network with which he had been working since 1993 – to host TBS’ Conan.

Leno denied he did anything to “deliberately sabotage” O’Brien in the interview, and also explained why he stayed at NBC amid the controversy, rather than moving to a different network.

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“Sometimes the czar you have is better than the one you’re going to,” Leno said.

“Then you have your old team shooting at you as well. I just figured let’s just play this out and see what happens. This all happened fairly quickly.”

Leno said he even considered joining ABC at the time, which was the home of Jimmy Kimmel Liveand recalled calling Kimmel to discuss the potential switch – but never followed up with Kimmel after he decided to stay at NBC.

“I suppose I should have called Jimmy and explained to him again, but I didn’t,” Leno said. “I don’t know why I didn’t. I just didn’t. I thought he probably would figure it out. But I think maybe he was hurt by that, and I apologized to him for that.”

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O’Brien, meanwhile, you have previously claimed he and Leno don’t speak with each otherand in a 2010 sit-down interview with the American 60 minutessaid he would never have done to Leno what Leno allegedly did to him.

“He went and took that show back and I think in a similar situation, if roles had been reversed, I know – I know me, I wouldn’t have done that,” O’Brien, 59, said on the show.

O’Brien, at the time, said he would not have “surrendered The Tonight Show and handed it over to somebody publicly and wished them well – and then… six months later… But that’s me, you know.”

“Everyone’s got their own, you know, way of doing things,” O’Brien said, and added that he had been in Leno’s position, he would have “done something else, [gone] someplace else.”

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Angelina Jolie had a strained relationship with her actor father Jon Voight after her parents split when she was young.  She dropped her dad's last name for her early on in her career, opting for her mother's maiden name for her, Jolie.  Ange refused to speak to Jon for six years after he said during a 2002 interview that he believed his daughter had "serious mental problems".  The pair have since reconciled, and Jon is now a doting grandfather to Angelina's six children.

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