Jay Leno has long said he lives off his standup money and takes the millions he gets paid for hosting the Tonight Show and sticks it right in the bank. So the news that Nikki Finke at Deadline Hollywood broke last night might not sting quite as much for him: One source tells her that Leno took a "tremendous" pay cut, and the LA Times confirms it was indeed "significant." The numbers require some guesswork, but the LAT thinks he went from somewhere between $25 million and $30 million down to about $20 million. Finke's numbers are higher.
According to both accounts, Leno volunteered to take the cuts to save jobs, though at least 20 people got layoffs. Why the downsizing? Finke says it's not because of concerns about ratings or ad revenue, but because parent company Comcast is demanding cuts all around. She says the show is still a "cash cow." The LAT, meanwhile, says Leno's prime-time budget never got shaved when he moved back to later hours.