Jay Leno isn't backing off the NBC jokes, despite a recent report that entertainment chief Robert Greenblatt is upset over his recent jabs at the network.
"You know the whole legend of St. Patrick, right?" Leno said in his monologue on Monday night's The Tonight Show. "St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland -- and then they came to the United States and became NBC executives. It's a fascinating story."
Leno and his fellow late-night hosts, including David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel, have a long tradition of ribbing their networks. But, according to a recent report in The New York Times,Greenblatt fired off an email to Leno after a Feb. 28 episode in which the late-night host skewered the network's falling to fifth place during sweeps month.
During the episode's opening monologue, Leno joked about NBC’s fifth-place status: "We are behind the Spanish-language network Univision -- or, as we call it here in Los Angeles, Cinco de Ratings." Other jokes included: "It’s so bad, The Biggest Loser isn’t just a TV show anymore; it’s our new motto" and "It’s so bad, NBC called Manti Te’o and asked him to bring in some imaginary viewers."
The exchange between Greenblatt and Leno is said to have occurred before The Hollywood Reporter reported March 1 that NBC was discussing an exit plan for Leno, which would see him cede his 11:35 p.m. timeslot in 2014, likely to be replaced by Jimmy Fallon. NBC has denied the report, but two high-level industry sources told THR the network was considering making an announcement in May.