"Tonight Show" host Jay Leno is taking a significant reduction in pay and roughly two dozen staffers are being let go as part of a major budget restructuring at the late-night talk show.
Although "The Tonight Show" remains the top-rated late-night program, from a financial standpoint it is only break-even, according to a person familiar with the economics of the show. One reason for that is that the production budget of the show was not reduced when Leno moved back to late night after his ill-fated stint in prime time during the 2009-10 television season.
Leno's current salary is between $25 million and $30 million and he volunteered to take a cut if it would save some jobs. A person close to the network thought Leno's new salary is likely around $20 million. Bruce Bobbins, one of Leno's spokesmen, declined to comment.
[Updated at 10:49 a.m., Aug. 18: In a statement later Bobbins said, "Jay's foremost concern is for the wonderful people who work for 'The Tonight Show.' He did what was necessary to ensure their well-being."]