As Jay Leno prepares to cede his "Tonight Show" desk to Jimmy Fallon next month, he's been gracious about the transition — even comparing the "Late Night" host to his legendary predecessor, Johnny Carson.
But while Leno is full of praise for Fallon, there's another Jimmy he doesn't think much of — ABC's late-night host, Jimmy Kimmel.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Leno claimed, "I don't get into public feuds with other comics."
But then, Leno was asked about Kimmel's many shots against him over the last few years. Kimmel's hatred of Leno began years ago, when Leno took over "The Tonight Show" instead of Kimmel's idol, David Letterman. It only intensified after the debacle that took place when Conan O'Brien took the reins from Leno. O'Brien was quickly ousted to put Leno back in the host's chair.
Leno talks leaving "Tonight Show" on "60 Minutes":
Kimmel was clearly Team Coco, ambushing Leno during an interview on the latter's primetime show. And since then, he's said that Leno "totally sold out" and once told a New York City audience, "F--- him."
Leno said there's no purpose in responding to Kimmel. "Rich people whining and complaining? Shut up," he said. "You make more money than 99 percent of the population and you're complaining and whining. My job is to go out there and be a comedian."
And there's a difference between this so-called feud with Kimmel than with his "interesting relationship" with Letterman.
"Is it a joke? Is it funny? You know, Letterman and I have had a fun relationship because when Letterman says something, it's funny," Leno said.
While Leno and Letterman will never be BFFs, the two respect each other. Letterman recently told Oprah Winfrey that Leno was "the funniest guy I've ever known."
"I learned from Dave the subtleties of doing a joke, and I think he learned from me how to really sell a joke," Leno noted. "So there was always a mutual admiration, and we always made each other laugh."
As for O'Brien, Leno hasn't spoken to him since he left NBC to do his own show on TBS — and has no plans to do so in the future. "Why would I do that?" he said. "No. God no."
With Leno's departure, it seems the prickliness among late-night hosts will finally come to an end. The always affable Fallon told Matt Lauer on "Today" that he doesn't foresee any tension. "I don't think for me. I don't think there's ever going to be anything tense."
- Jay Leno
- Jimmy Kimmel
- Jimmy Fallon
- David Letterman