Talk show host Jay Leno has taken a massive cut in pay, as TV executives have given pink slips to approximately 25 employees of the NBC chat fest.
Leno, 62, offered to take a huge deduction in his salary—estimated to be around $25 million a year—in an effort to keep more employees from losing their jobs. Leno also earns up to $20 million a year from endorsement deals as well as his hectic personal appearance and concert schedule.
NBC announced the cuts this week, even though The Tonight Show with Jay Leno is consistently the top ranked night time talk show, normally besting rival David Letterman in the ratings by several percentage points. Insiders say that other staff members were forced to take a pay cut—or they would lose their jobs as well.
Leno took over the hosting position after the legendary Johnny Carson retired from the show in 1992. Leno created his own controversy after handing over the reigns of the show to fellow host Conan O'Brien in 2009 to host his own prime time, weekly talk show. After the show failed to catch on with viewers in the ratings, Leno requested his old job back, which forced out the affable O'Brien, who did end up collecting a hefty $40 million severance package.
This is just the latest "controversy" facing the Peacock Network in recent weeks. The network was widely criticized for broadcasting portions of the London Olympic Games on a tape delay—including the Opening and Closing Ceremonies—as well as the unceremonious firing of popular Today show anchor Ann Curry.