O’Donnell: Time for Leno to step aside

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PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Rosie O’Donnell said Thursday that it’s time for Jay Leno to step aside for Conan O’Brien and “not try to flatten his tires before he even gets going.”

NBC is seeking to move Leno into his old 11:35 p.m. “Tonight” show time slot and push O’Brien past midnight again, after Leno’s prime-time show failed. O’Brien is balking at the move after only seven months at “Tonight,” and a negotiated exit from NBC seems likely.

O’Donnell, talking to reporters while promoting an HBO documentary, said she was a huge fan of O’Brien.

“If you’re privileged enough to drive the bus, you should say, ‘Thank you’ and drive it to the best of your ability, and when it’s time for them to hire a new driver, you should say ‘Thank you for allowing me to drive this as long as I did’ and pass the keys to the new guy with red hair, and not try to flatten his tires before he even gets going,” she said.

O’Donnell was even more blunt on her blog, saying Leno had bullied his way back into college so he could be the quarterback again.

She also revealed on the blog that when Leno started on the “Tonight” show in the early 1990s, NBC executive Brandon Tartikoff offered her the chance to sub for Leno on Friday nights as Joan Rivers did for Johnny Carson. O’Donnell said Leno nixed the idea.

The former daytime talk show host said she has no interest in late night, particularly given what’s going on now.

“That question today is like asking if I’d want to have a vacation in Haiti,” she said.