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Jay Leno tried to relax guests with liquid courage from The Jay Bar

Producer Dave Berg discusses the presidents, the divas, and the presidential divas during Jay Leno's 22-year run.
By Aileen Graef   |   June 18, 2014 at 9:13 AM   |   Comments

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LOS ANGELES, June 18 (UPI) --What was Jay Leno's secret to help guests overcome stage fright? Alcohol.

Producer Dave Berg has written a tell-all about The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and has behind-the-scenes details of the divas, frustrations, gaffes, and notable guests on the show.

In his new book, Behind the Curtain: An Insider's View of Jay Leno's Tonight Show, Berg describes The Jay Bar. Some guests would get a case of stage fright before their appearance so Leno would provide a mobile bar with beer and wine to help guest relax before the show. It didn't come without its risks. Quentin Tarantino drank so much before his appearance in 2003 that he was "occasionally incoherent."

The show had its share of divas. Desperate Housewives star Teri Hatcher was what Berg described as a "complicated" guest. One time when she was slated as a guest, President Barack Obama agreed to come on the show and she was bumped. One of her staffers suggested she receive a Louis Vuitton bag as a conciliatory gift. Berg said she was sent flowers.

Berg said one great interview was done with a presidential candidate who almost missed his cue because he was engaging in "private antics" with his wife.

"All of a sudden, the door opened and the candidate emerged, looking sheepish as he straightened his tie and said nothing. His wife, whose hair was mussed and whose lipstick was noticeably smeared, was smiling as she wished her husband good luck," said Berg of the unnamed candidate.

One president who refused to make an appearance was former President Bill Clinton. Leno once sent him a $12,000 custom-made tandem bicycle as a get-well gift after his triple-bypass surgery. The bike, bearing two seats presumably for him and his wife, was returned. Hillary Clinton was then a New York Senator and could not accept gifts worth more than $50.

Leno tried again and sent a bike with one seat, which was accepted, but Clinton never appeared on the show. Clinton's aides told Berg that the president "simply didn't like Jay's never-ending Monica Lewinsky jokes."

That is understandable given that Clinton was his top target as the subject of 4,607 of his 43,892 jokes.

Leno ended his 22-year run as host in February, when he handed over the reins to Jimmy Fallon.

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