Reports: Jay Leno Takes Pay Cut, as Layoffs Hit ‘Tonight Show’

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Late-night TV icon Jay Leno took a major pay cut this week, in a bid to spare Tonight Show employees from layoffs — but nearly two dozen staffers were still shown the door, Deadline.com reported late Friday night.

The show’s producers were reportedly forced to choose between taking pay cuts or losing their jobs altogether, with somewhere between 20 and 25 opting for the latter. The downsizing comes as a surprise, given the Tonight Show’s late-night ratings dominance in recent years.

(More: The 5 Best Late-Night Jokes of the Week)

An NBC source told Deadline that the cuts likely stem from “a network issue” rather than “a late-night issue.” It also doesn’t seem to be an issue with Leno himself, despite the harsh criticism he’s faced in recent years, following the Great Timeslot Debacle of 2010. Leno began his stint on The Tonight Show in 1992, following Johnny Carson’s 30-year reign. In 2009, Leno temporarily passed the torch to Conan O’Brien, before the network asked the newcomer to move back the show’s time slot to give priority to a Leno talk show. O’Brien refused and headed over to TBS, with Leno returning to his original late-night slot in 2010.

According to Deadline, the pay cut Leno agreed to this week was “tremendous,” with his new annual salary resting somewhere between an estimated $27 and $30 million. Apart from his hosting gig, Leno also reportedly brings in between $15 and $20 million a year from personal appearances and stand-up performances.

PHOTOS: Behind the Scenes With Jay Leno

87 comments
bartleby69
bartleby69

Dave Letterman is an a s s h o l e and so are his fans.

bartleby69
bartleby69

Dave Letterman is an a.ss and so are his fans.

Jim Garringer
Jim Garringer

This has nothing to do with Democrats or Republicans. It is a result of the changing landscape in entertainment. When Carson did the Tonight Show, you had three major networks - if you were up at that time of the night, your choices as to what to watch were limited to what the major networks offered. Today if you are up at that time of the night, and IF you are watching television, your choice is not limited to Leno or Letterman, you also have ESPN (not just one but many), CNN, TBS,  Food Channel, Weather Channel, History Channel, HBO, etc. Not to mention people can watch their favorite television shows on Hulu or if they have recorded them because they had to miss them when they were on. 

Jay Leno is to be commended for taking such a pay cut to try to spare his staff. I wish him and his staff well for the future.

Kimberly Wiltshire
Kimberly Wiltshire

His pay cut was substantial and still he makes 27 million+ to make jokes. Poor him, not really. I have nothing against people making money doing what they love but, really that is an extravagant amount money. 

alltornup
alltornup

Poor Jay! 27 million is not enough? I'm a middle-class Democrat who pays my taxes, has taken a 6% pay cut, my medical insurance increased the same, so I am out a lot every month! But I have a job and my husband and I put two kids through college with no loans. We survive. I usually don't complain...but the rich keep getting richer...and I never hear about Jay Leno volunteering or helping out in any way. Some celebrities do. Jay buys cars. He acts like a Republican and he supported Arnold! Whatever...Our economy has to change and Jay getting 27 million and not paying his fair share is one problem, but not for him!!!!

lakawak
lakawak

Maybe it is your terrible illiteracy that causes you to have such a crappy job. At NO POINT did Jay Leno ask you for sympathy

KB_Corkless
KB_Corkless

Some other annual wages if you're curious,

NY Yankees team payroll: $196 million

Tom Cruise: $75 million

Tiger Woods (prize money + endosements): $61 million

Howard Stern: $95 million

Kim Kardashian: $18 million

High School Teacher (USA average): $43,623

lakawak
lakawak

Entertainers and athletes provide a good or service to MILLIONS of people per year. EAch of whom pay very little for that good or service. (With TV hosts, many pay nothing but their time in front of commercials.)

Meanwhile, a teacher is serving only 30 or so "customers" a year. They get paid FAR more per customer than entertainers.

There is also a MUCH greater supply of teachers than top entertainers.

Simple supply and demand curb. High school economcis stuff.

KB_Corkless
KB_Corkless

Good point, I was making a idealistic comparison of 'absolute' value for services rendered without considering 'unit cost'. I've watched some of Leno's TV show and want my 18 cents back.

zoe99
zoe99

 Oh, ho, ho, ho! That's funny! You should get a job as a writer for the Tonight Show. Because of course you just compared Jay Leno to Mitt Romney, and pointed out that Jay might do the same thing that Mitt Romney does, ha ha. That's so funny. Just one thing -- did you happen to notice that Jay Leno is an entertainer, and not a presidential candidate?

zoe99
zoe99

 Where do you get your facts? FOX News?

Marc Seligman
Marc Seligman

I feel really bad. How is Jay expected to survive this?

lakawak
lakawak

Again...to the ignorant idiots...Jay Leno never ASKED you to feel bad for him. He enver CLAIMED it was a hardship for him. He hasn't even touched a penny of his Tonight Show money. And he has no kids.

watcher15
watcher15

I can not believe the rude and disrespectful remarks about Leno.  Educate and mature, people !  Have you thought that NBC should revamp the Today Show and get it back to actual news instead of all the gossip stories and the "news" people wasting time on other meaningless,  and probably expensive, useless drivel.  A lot of money is wasted on that show!  There are several other shows that have terrible ratings on NBC.

Mike Mayer
Mike Mayer

Leno and Letterman just go through the motions of being the savvy late

night hosts they once were. Their brand faded and died a long time ago.

"DaaaVVIID LETTERMAN!" is SO lame. And Paul Shaffer has the talent and

personality of an artichoke. My vote goes to the past inimitable hosts

like Jack Paar, Steve Allen, and Johnny Carson. These guys were always

worth watching.

Albert Wilson
Albert Wilson

Dumb jokes and boring guests. What time does it start?

wallab06
wallab06

I'm not sure how this article reads with concern to Leno's salary. Is he now making between 27 and 30mil or is that how much they cut? I think that number is what he makes now. Wow! How nice of a guy to take a cut, but there are still about 25 or 30 people losing their jobs. If he makes 10 to 15mil on outside events, why didn't he take a big enough cut to help those 25 to 30 keep their jobs. He can't live on 15mil or even 20mil per year, not  including  his 10 to 15mil he makes on the side. In my opinion, the guy is a prick for now asking them what it would take for everybody to keep their jobs. It's not like it would be forever!

lakawak
lakawak

Why should he? Whenver someone is laid off at your job, do YOU offer to take a cut?

Also..ignorant moron...it is not his call. HE doesn't pay his staff. He is an employee of NBC.

JecBeanz
JecBeanz

It is a little confusing....

That is the salary he is making now, after the cuts.  In addition to the $27M - $30M, he makes an additional $15M - $20M doing other things.  So - that would bring his total income to somewhere between $42M and $50M, after taking this massive pay cut.

The producers were given a choice to either take a pay cut or be let go.  20 - 25 producers chose to be let go.  So - that means the remaining producers took pay cuts to keep their jobs.  So, it's more than just a layoff.

Eclectech
Eclectech

This country is so polarized now, we can't even talk about Jay Leno's show without bringing up politics. SMH

US_Army_Veteran
US_Army_Veteran

Nobody wants to listen to this garbage anymore and nobody is up that late, either. 

Albert Wilson
Albert Wilson

I'm always up that late but, you're right, I don't want to watch that garge.

Nikhil Seth
Nikhil Seth

and he couldn't take a further $2-3 million and keep the other jobs? 

lito_2010
lito_2010

27 to 30 million a year for those lame jokes? I know I'm old that I can remember when  Leno was actually funny!

US_Army_Veteran
US_Army_Veteran

 Very sickening that he makes that kind of money to do that when our soldiers might barely break 30k a year.

Mara Tam
Mara Tam

 one thing has nothing to do with the other -- how about asking some repubs how they've supported the troops with their own salaries?

rightseded
rightseded

Couldn't Jay have given up just a couple of million more a year to support th3e folks laid off?  Really Jay? You make $27,000,000-$30,000,000.  You ought to be ashamed of yourself.

Mike Mayer
Mike Mayer

Leno and Letterman just go through the motions of being the savvy late

night hosts they once were. Their brand faded and died a long time ago.

"DaaaVVIID LETTERMAN!" is SO lame. And Paul Shaffer has the talent and

personality of an artichoke. My vote goes to the past inimitable hosts

like Jack Paar, Steve Allen, and Johnny Carson. These guys were always

worth watching.

bartleby69
bartleby69

Leno and Letterman just go through the motions of being the savvy late

night hosts they once were. Their brand faded and died a long time ago.

"DaaaVVIID LETTERMAN!" is SO lame. And Paul Shaffer has the talent and

personality of an artichoke. My vote goes to the past inimitable hosts

like Jack Paar, Steve Allen, and Johnny Carson. These guys were always

worth watching.

lakawak
lakawak

Give me a break...the last 5-10 years (if not more) Johnny Carson was still acting like it was the late 60s/early 70s. That is why whenver he went on vacation and Leno filled in for the whole week, ratings SOARED.

Yup...both Leno and Letterman are still living in the past. Just like Carson who was still doing vaudeville era schtick in the 90s for crying out loud.

Mara Tam
Mara Tam

 Yes, you're right.  But they're dead.

shepdogsd
shepdogsd

Is 69 the number of times you post the SAME thing?  Crying for attention are we?

Mark Pinto
Mark Pinto

Gee how is the poor guy going to make a living when he can only earn between 27 and 50 MILLION dollars a year.  I sure hope things turn around for him.

bartleby69
bartleby69

Leno and Letterman just go through the motions of being the savvy late

night hosts they once were. Their brand faded and died a long time ago.

"DaaaVVIID LETTERMAN!" is SO lame. And Paul Shaffer has the talent and

personality of an artichoke. My vote goes to the past inimitable hosts

like Jack Paar, Steve Allen, and Johnny Carson. These guys were always

worth watching.

Sroz
Sroz

Whoa, wait, his tremendous decrease in pay only leaves him somewhere between $27 and $30 million?  And he can't give up a couple mil to help out his staff? Most people can live nicely off of a small percentage of what he rakes in at his REDUCED salary. How can he sleep at night knowing those people have lost their jobs and he still gets paid MILLIONS????????

lakawak
lakawak

HE IS AN EMPLOEE, IDIOT! He doesn't make those choices.

haloguy628
haloguy628

Did you read the article? All the support staff got the choice of a cut in salary or the choice of leaving. Some chose to leave.

JecBeanz
JecBeanz

I doubt that they really had a 'choice' in the matter.  I don't think the paycuts that the support staff received would have been relevant in relation to what Jay took.  Assume the pay cuts were 50%.  Someone who is making $100K per year is going to have a tough time if it's cut to $50K.  For Jay to take 1/2 - wouldn't really be an issue for him.   It's all relative.  Frankly, it may have been better for them to go on unemployment.  I can't imagine anyone leaving a job in this economy. 

I am curious how much of a cut he actually took.  I googled Jay Leno and it said he made $32M in 2008.