On the same night that Conan came back in a retooled format, Jay Leno sat down for a rare interview with Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live. The car-loving denim enthusiast participated in the show’s popular “Plead the Fifth” segment, in which guests have to answer uncomfortable questions, or, well, plead the fifth. (Previous examples include “How Hung Is Shaq?” and “Kathy Bates Toked With WHO!?”) “If you could go back and redo one thing during the time from when Conan took over for you on the Tonight Show and then after 10 months you came back to the Tonight Show, what would it be?” Andy Cohen asked Leno, referring to the “War for Late Night” when Conan O’Brien succeeded Leno as the host of The Tonight Show, only for NBC to controversially reserve course and give the late-night show back to Leno.
“I can’t think of anything I’d do different,” Leno replied. “Look, they’re ratings-based shows. People act like it’s your decision. ‘Well, you know, I think I’ll go back.’ The network makes these decisions. They decide when you’re going to leave and they decide they want you to come back. So there’s not a lot different I would have done.” It’s not like The Jay Leno Show was a roaring success.
(When O’Brien was on Watch What Happens Live, he played “Plead the Fifth,” as well, except his question was, “You are seated next to Jay Leno on a flight, what do you say to him? What is the conversation?” The former-Simpsons writer answered, “I’m watching a movie and my headphones are on and I don’t think we ever actually talk… I’m so happy that I don’t see who’s next to me, and I miss a glorious chance to talk to that wonderful fellow.”)
Leno also told Cohen that he and David Letterman “don’t hate each other,” and that the “media makes a big thing about it.” You can watch the clips above.