THERE’s bad blood between JAY LENO and his “Tonight Show” replacement Jimmy Fallon, sources say, and Leno is not only furious at being “dissed” by NBC but also plotting his revenge!
“Jay feels he’s been the network’s workhorse, delivering strong ratings, but not getting his just due,” said an insider.
Leno, 63, has hosted “Tonight” since 1992, but Fallon, 39, will take his place starting Feb. 17, when the show – produced by Lorne Michaels of “Saturday Night Live” fame – moves to New York City from L.A.
“Jay feels both he and the people who’ve made ‘Tonight’ a success are being shoved aside,” said the source. “All because ratings have taken a slight hit and NBC is desperate for a younger audience.”
While Leno and Fallon have made nice in public, “the truth is that they can’t stand each other,” added the insider.
“Fallon thinks Jay’s stand-up style is antiquated while Jay feels Fallon is a lightweight.”
Besides that, Leno is still steaming over being replaced by Conan O’Brien in June 2009, and then being brought back when ratings plummeted.
“Jay is biding his time, confident that Jimmy will fail like Conan,” said a TV industry source. “Then, if the network comes back to him, he’d play hard to get, or hold out for a massive salary increase for himself – and his entire staff.”
He has other options, as well. Although Leno remains under contract with NBC through September, he could jump networks after that.
“Jay knows FOX TV wants him, and he could set up house there by the end of this year,” said the insider, “and make NBC and Fallon pay.”