Is Jay Leno Permanently Damaged By ‘Tonight’ Battle?

By Andrew Gauthier 

Associated Press

Certainly Jay Leno would love to wake up to find that the last six months were just a nightmare.

That way, he would be preparing another “Tonight” show monologue, not going on the national shrink’s sofa across from Oprah Winfrey, as he was Thursday. He would not have seen a photo of himself doctored to look battered on the cover of Entertainment Weekly, symbolizing television’s biggest flop ever. And he would not have heard the rough jokes with the serious subtext that he had sandbagged Conan O’Brien.


NBC is hoping that it all goes away, too. The network will not know until March 1 whether he has been damaged permanently by the disastrous decision to try him in nightly prime time and the clumsy way he recovered his old job. March 1 is when Leno returns to late night, opposite David Letterman on CBS. More…