The dustup began a week ago, after the news that NBC had laid off about 20 “Tonight Show” staffers and Leno took a pay cut to help rein in the show’s budget. On his radio show, Stern went after Leno, calling him, among other things, a “spineless maggot” and suggesting Leno made the cuts himself but didn’t want to “come off as a bad guy.”
The following day, Stern recounted getting a “threatening kind of comment” from an NBC executive and was asked to stop taking shots at Leno. Stern, who also works for NBC as a judge on “America’s Got Talent,” was unbowed.
“I said, ‘Do not tell me not to talk about Jay Leno.’ I will f***ing talk about Jay for four hours if you tell me not to. I was done with Jay — now I’m all fired up again.” (You can go here to listen to Stern’s full, NSFW conversation about the NBC call.)
Stern says the NBC exec told him not to talk about the “Tonight” budget cuts since he doesn’t know exactly what went down. “It’s pretty obvious I don’t know anything about the budget cuts over at NBC,” he says. “So who cares what I think? …
“I love my job on ‘AGT,’ I love working for the people at NBC — they’ve been nothing but wonderful,” Stern adds. “But please don’t tell me what to say. I’d rather leave than not talk about Jay Leno. … It’s fine. Fire me too.”