Jay Leno wants Conan O'Brien back as a guest on "The Tonight Show."
But, Leno told Oprah Winfrey Thursday, he's not sure if O'Brien would accept the offer.
"I haven't talked to Conan through all of this," he said. "I wanted to pick up the phone, but it doesn't seem appropriate. Let things cool down, and maybe we'll talk."
Leno said NBC made a mess of the entire deal.
"Anything [NBC] did would have been better than this," he said. "If they'd come in and shot everybody, it would've been, 'oh the people were murdered,' but it would've been only a two-day story. This was a huge mess."
Leno told Oprah that both he and O'Brien were victims of falling ratings and bad finances.
He said NBC offered him an 11:35 p.m. slot and that his frist question was if Conan would agree.
He says the NBC execs said it would be fine.
But, Leno said, the next thing he knew was O'Brien's letter to the "people of Earth."
"It had nothing to do with me," he said.
"There's always someone waiting in the wings in this business to take your job. If you're not doing the numbers, they move on. Pretty simple," he told her.
"I didn't think that I was taking away Conan's dream," Leno said. "This was an affiliate decision. It's a matter of dollars and cents. They only asked me to come back after Conan turned down the deal."
And he says he know how Conan feels.
He says he was devastated when NBC told him they wanted Conan to take over on "Tonight" in 2009.
"I was in my office, and one of the executives came and said, 'Listen, Conan's getting offers from other networks, we don't want to lose him, we want to give him the show, and we're asking you to leave,' " Leno said. "It broke my heart. I was devastated. This is the job that I always wanted, and it was the only job that ever mattered in [show business] to me."
"I did feel bad for Conan, it wasn't fair. But TV is unfair. It was unfair to me. I didn't cause this, it was the ratings."
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