In an interview set to air Sunday on CBS' 60 Minutes, Jay Leno finally opens up about his first Tonight Show ouster in 2009: "I was blindsided," admits the twice-removed NBC host.
In the interview with Steve Kroft, Leno compares himself to a clueless boyfriend when hearing of his initial NBC breakup. "I was blindsided … [NBC executives said] 'You're out…' and I went 'OK.' " The jilted Leno never asked NBC what prompted the decision. "You know, you have a girl [who] says, 'I don't want to see you anymore.' Why? You know, she doesn't want to see you anymore, OK?"
Leno was willing to give the relationship a second chance when he was brought back several months later to replace Conan O'Brien. However, he was upset when the media portrayed him as a show-stealing bully. "I didn't quite understand that, but I never chose to answer any of those things or make fun of any other people involved," he told Kroft. "It's not my way."
Also not his way? Keeping silent on his second departure. Of his upcoming February goodbye, Leno adds, "It's not my decision."
He then masks his clearly hurt feelings with praise for Jimmy Fallon, "I think I probably would have stayed if we didn't have an extremely qualified, young guy ready to jump in. [Jimmy Fallon] is probably more like a young Johnny [Carson] than almost anybody since. And he's really good," Leno said. "So you go with the new guy. Makes perfect sense to me."
Leno's last episode of The Tonight Show will air on Thursday, Feb. 6.