"The Tonight Show" Lays Off 20, Leno's Takes Pay Cut

By: CNN (posted by Justin Surrency) Email
By: CNN (posted by Justin Surrency) Email
Between 20 and 25 employees of NBC

In this photo released by NBC, presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee talks with Jay Leno during the taping of "The Tonight Show" on Wednesday Jan. 2, 2008 in Burbank, Calif. The return of TV's late-night funnymen after a two-month strike hiatus turned into a bizarre mix of picketing and presidential politics Wednesday as Republican Mike Huckabee headed for Jay Leno's show and Democrat Hillary Clinton turned to David Letterman. (AP Photo/NBC, Paul Drinkwater) ** EDITORIAL USE ONLY NO ARCHIVE NO SALES **

CNN -Between 20 and 25 employees of NBC's "The Tonight Show" have been laid off and host Jay Leno has taken a substantial pay cut, a source with direct knowledge of the situation told CNN on Saturday.

The employees were let go Friday, with Leno's salary reduction intended to prevent even more staff reductions, the source said.

The actions were taken as NBC seeks to move the show to a cost structure typical of late-night programming, as opposed to prime-time shows, according to the source.

Leno replaced the legendary Johnny Carson as host of "The Tonight Show" in 1992, a job he held for 17 years when he left in 2009 to helm "The Jay Leno Show" with a 10 p.m. start time. But a few months later, in January 2010, NBC announced the comedian would once again move to his old 11:35 p.m. time slot.

The Massachusetts-raised comic's venture into prime time three years ago was pitched as an attempt by the network to parlay his proven popularity into a commercially successful show.

But lagging ratings prompted NBC executives to change course within a few months. That move ultimately led to fellow talk show host Conan O'Brien's departure from the network. O'Brien now hosts a show, "Conan," on TBS that, like CNN, is a division of Time Warner.

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