Jay Leno didn’t just take a pay cut to reduce the budget of “The Tonight Show” - he agreed to have his salary cut in half, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The cut brought Leno’s salary down to about $15 million, and he renewed his contract with the network through May 2014, the paper said. The pay cut helped reduce the $100 million “Tonight Show” budget by 20 percent, NBC told the Journal.
Leno agreed to the cuts last month partly in an effort to save jobs as the “Tonight Show” had about 20 layoffs. That brought the size of the show’s staff to about 200 people.
NBC entertainment chief Robert Greenblatt told the Journal that the cuts were intended to reverse tens of millions of dollars in increases that accompanied Leno’s move to primetime in 2009. That experiment resulted in failure, and Leno returning to the “Tonight Show” after Conan O’Brien decided to exit the show rather than agree to a move to 12:05 a.m start time.
“All we did was bring it back down to pre-prime-time levels,” said Greenblatt, who also said the show was still profitable but was “not the cash cow it was in the Johnny Carson days.”
The cuts won’t cut too deeply for Leno, who has said he banks his “Tonight Show” salary and survives on his pay for standup gigs and other appearances.
NBC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.