Jay Leno Tells 60 Minutes Why NBC’s Late Night Plan Makes ‘Perfect Sense’

Jay Leno sat down for an interview with 60 Minutes that will air this Sunday, less than two weeks before he hosts his last Tonight Show and passes the late night reins to Jimmy Fallon. In the preview clip below, Leno admits that he might want to stay on with NBC, but given the circumstances says the network’s plan makes “perfect sense.”

“I probably would have stayed if we didn’t have an extremely qualified young guy ready to jump in,” Leno says of Fallon. “But we have somebody, very good, very talented.” Paying what is perhaps the highest compliment a late night host could receive, Leno goes on to call his successor “more like a young Johnny [Carson] than anyone since… so you go with the new guy, makes perfect sense to me.”

But if things had gone down differently with NBC, he would not have been so easy-going. “If they had said, ‘Look, you’re fired, we don’t know who we’re going to get, we don’t know what we’re going to put in there, but anybody but you, we just want you out of there,’ I would be hurt and offended.”

After Leno steps down on February 6th, Fallon will premiere to new Tonight Show from NBC’s New York studios on Monday, February 17th, with guests Will Smith and U2.