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Leno calls O'Brien 'a gentleman'

In this photo provided by NBC, Conan O'Brien (L) is interviewed by Jay Leno during Leno's final taping as host of The Tonight Show in Burbank, California on May 29, 2009. (UPI Photo/Paul Drinkwater)
In this photo provided by NBC, Conan O'Brien (L) is interviewed by Jay Leno during Leno's final taping as host of "The Tonight Show" in Burbank, California on May 29, 2009. (UPI Photo/Paul Drinkwater) | License Photo

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 19 (UPI) -- Jay Leno says his fellow U.S. talk-show host Conan O'Brien has behaved like "a gentleman" despite the current tensions at their home base of NBC.

The peacock network ousted Leno as "The Tonight Show" host at the end of last season and gave the position to O'Brien to keep O'Brien from moving to another network. NBC then gave Leno his own nightly, hour-long, 10 p.m. chat series, "The Jay Leno Show." When the prime-time series failed to be a strong lead-in for local news broadcasts, however, NBC announced it would push Leno's show back to 11:35 p.m., shorten it to 30 minutes and air "Tonight" at 12:05 a.m.

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However, O'Brien said last week he will not remain on "Tonight" if it is moved to 12:05 a.m. NBC has not yet officially commented on his announcement.

"Through all of this, Conan O'Brien has been a gentleman," People.com quoted Leno as saying at the taping of Monday's edition of "The Jay Leno Show." "He's a good guy. I have no animosity towards him."

Leno also said it appears he will be returning as host of "The Tonight Show" now that O'Brien has said he doesn't want the show bumped to a later time slot, People.com said.

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"So that's pretty much where we are. It looks like we might be back at 11:30," Leno said. "I'm not sure. I don't know. ... They come back to me and they say if (O'Brien) decides to walk and doesn't want to do it, do you want the show back? I go: 'Yeah, I'll take the show back. If that's what he wants to do. This way, we keep our people working, fine.' So that's pretty much where we are."

TMZ said O'Brien is in the process of finalizing a $32.5 million deal to leave NBC.

As part of his end of the bargain, O'Brien must agree not to star in another talk show until the fall. He also may have to relinquish the rights to characters he created, such as Triumph the Insult Comic Dog and the Masturbating Bear, while at NBC, TMZ said.

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