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Jay Leno appears in a promotional photo for The Tonight Show. - Provided courtesy of NBC

'Tonight Show' cuts staff, Jay Leno takes pay cut

Get more: TV, Jay Leno
08/20/2012 by Olivia Allin

"The Tonight Show" has laid off two dozen staff members and Jay Leno took a massive pay cut, following budget cuts.

Leno accepted a pay cut, reportedly in order to spare other staff members from losing their jobs as well. NBC Universal made the cutbacks on Friday, an insider told the Associated Press.

The payroll cuts affected 10 percent of staffers on the late night show, which remains the top-rated program in its timeslot.

Leno's annual salary was between $25 million and $30 million a year, before the cuts. His salary as host of "The Tonight Show" has reportedly been reduced to $20 million. He also earns a substantial amount doing stand-up tours.

"Jay's foremost concern is for the wonderful people who work with him at 'The Tonight Show,'" Leno's spokesman Bruce Bobbins told the Associated Press. "He did what was necessary to ensure their well-being."

Despite decent ratings, "The Late Show" was not bringing in a profit. The show's weekly budget was reportedly cut by $600,000 to $1.7 million.

Leno, a standup comedian and Massachusetts native, hosted "The Tonight Show" between 1992 and 2009, after which O'Brien took over for seven months. Leno regained his position after O'Brien left the network last year as part of an NBC shake-up.

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