Outside of the Hatfields and the McCoys (and possibly the Duffs and the Lohans), there is no relationship more contentious than that of Jay Leno and David Letterman. Unless you’ve been stranded on an island somewhere in the South Pacific under the employ of the Dharma Initiative since 1992, you’ll surely know that the bad blood began when Leno outwitted Letterman by stealthily maneuvering himself into position to succeed Johnny Carson as the host of NBC’s famed Tonight Show franchise, a stunning move that was captured in the 1996 made-for-HBO film The Late Shift. While no one would expect that either of them would ever forget the incident, let alone become best buddies, one might expect that after sixteen plus years the two would find a suitable occasion over which to break bread. Well, if you believe what Jay Leno tells GQ this month, there was recent occasion where he tried to make peace with Letterman, but Dave wasn’t havin’ it.
GQ: I heard that you wrote Dave a letter, after he had his open-heart surgery.
GQ: What was in the letter?
Leno: Oh, just how funny I thought he was and how I owed him a lot. How important he was to me and all that.
GQ: Did he respond?
Leno: Uh, no.
Leno: But that’s okay. Where’d you hear that?
GQ: That’s not okay.
Leno: Well, it’s not okay, but fine. What do you do, you know? I don’t know if he ever got it.
GQ: It’s weirdly heartless.
Leno: I don’t know if he ever got it. He might not ever have gotten it. A middling might’ve said, “I don’t want to show this to Dave. It’ll upset him,” and thrown it away, so I don’t know. Ever talk to Dave?
GQ: Ah, no.
Leno: Dave’s a great guy.
GQ: Your relationship is a movie.
Leno: Well, it was a bad movie. That stupid Late Shift movie.
GQ: Do you think you two will ever come around?
Leno: I hope so!
Harsh! According to Leno, though, Dave’s ongoing hatred for him isn’t so great that he wouldn’t take advantage of their famed rivalry for ratings gain. Once again, if you believe what Jay Leno says in the interview (which, personally, we’re only mildly inclined to), the booking people for Letterman tried to get Jay to appear on The Late Show the night that Conan debuts as host of the Tonight Show. Scandalous!
What do you think, VultureWatchers? Is Leno full of baloney? Would Dave really invite Jay onto his show? Should they bury the hatchet or keep their feud going? You know where to sound off.