Jay Leno: Producer’s Book Spills Beans on ‘Tonight Show’ AnticsBy: Kimberly Ripley - June 22, 2014
Jay Leno’s longtime Tonight Show segment producer David Berg has written a book about his years with Leno and the snafus and occasional difficulties the staff and host ran in to with a handful of guests. Called Behind the Curtain: An Insider’s View of Jay Leno’s Tonight Show, the book shares some things Jay Leno could not while at the Tonight Show helm. Since passing the torch to Jimmy Fallon in February, however, these former guests and the stories about them are all fair game.
For example, Jesse Jackson suffered from horrible stage fright and following a segment during which he shook horribly both backstage and even after he went on, Leno came up with an idea for calming such awful cases of nerves. He called it The Jay Bar and it featured a station replete with beer and wine for guests to enjoy before going on the show. It likely would have worked just fine for Jesse Jackson, however some guests didn’t know when to call it good. In 20013 Quentin Tarantino drank so much at The Jay Bar he was visibly slurring his words during his conversation with Leno.
David Berg says Paula Abdul was what he considered a ‘risky guest.’
“Her behavior was consistently erratic. She would cancel appearances for strange reasons, and when she did show up, her speech was often so slurred we could barely understand her,” Berg writes. He was responsible for making sure she was “coherent enough to appear.”
Since Abdul brought with her hefty ratings she was a frequent visitor on The Tonight Show, too.
Berg also tells of an unnamed guest whose towel dropped suddenly when both Jay Leno and Berg entered her dressing room. Jay initially chalked it up to an accident or ‘wardrobe malfunction,’ and not missing a comic opportunity to say, “How could any towel withstand that kind of pressure?” However when it happened again during her next appearance on the show he was rendered speechless.
Jay Leno’s segment producer no doubt has lots of great tales to tell in Behind the Curtain: An Insider’s View of Jay Leno’s Tonight Show, and even though some former guests of the funny man will likely be less than thrilled about the tattling, it certainly sounds like it makes for interesting and very funny reading.
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