LOS ANGELES, Nov. 3 (UPI) -- U.S. television personality Jay Leno says his new prime time talk show is "looking OK," but he probably would go back to late night if NBC offered it to him.
"The Jay Leno Show" started airing weeknights at 10 p.m. in September after Leno, host of "The Tonight Show" for 17 years, was booted by NBC to make room for current "Tonight" host Conan O'Brien.
"I think we're looking OK," Leno told Broadcasting & Cable in an exclusive interview. "We don't get a lot of complaints on content. The first week, people kind of went after us because it looked like the old show. Well, yeah. We seem to be doing OK, obviously, going after the toughest competition in television; 10 o'clock shows are all steamrollers, and the idea is this is a show we do on a budget and we're trying to make money."
Leno said that after taking over "Tonight" from the retiring Johnny Carson nearly two decades ago, he is used to criticism and cries of, "You stink, you suck, we hate you."
"Then you go along and you're great; from last January to May, I was a genius," Leno said. "I really don't take anything too personally. I find there's a lot of anger at NBC. But it's like I say to the people who write the dramas: If I weren't doing this, it would be 'Dateline' five nights a week or reality shows. We've kept work in California, we have 22 WGA writers, but there's always going to be anger and resentment."
Asked if he regrets NBC's decision to move him to an earlier time slot, Leno replied: "Would I have preferred to stay at 11:30? Yeah, sure. I would have preferred that. I think it's too soon to say whether I regret anything or not… . My thing is, I did 'The Tonight Show' for 17 years, that's what I did. It's like the America's Cup; you won it, they can't take it away from you. So now you try this and you see what happens. Do I enjoy the battle? Yes, I get a certain amount of satisfaction from pounding my head against the wall."
Pressed to speculate about what he might do if a new NBC owner asked him to move back to his old time slot, Leno said: "If it were offered to me, would I take it? If that's what they wanted to do, sure. That would be fine if they wanted to."