This week has been a rough ride for Jay Leno. Literally and figuratively.
On Thursday, the nighttime legend, 72, revealed to the Las Vegas Review Journal that he is – again – on the mend from a motorcycle accident on January 17 that broke several bones in his body.
To make matters worse, shortly after that interview was published, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that CNBC is canceling the comedian’s show, Jay Leno Garage, after being on primetime for seven seasons, as part of the network’s recent shift to invest more in business news and personal finance content – ending Leno’s three-decade relationship with NBC, after a 22-year stint as host of the Tonight Show.
The comedian, who is preparing for a one-night engagement at the Wynn hotel in Vegas on March 31, explained that he was “knocked off” by his vintage motorcycle (a 1940s Native American) after taking it for a test drive, in which he decided to quit after smelling what he thought was gas leaking.
“I turned onto a side street and cut through a parking lot, and unbeknownst to me, a man had stretched a wire across the parking lot but it had no flag hanging from it,” Leno explained to the journal. “So, you know, I didn’t see it until it was too late. It was just a clothesline[d] me and, boom, knocked me off the bike.
“The engine kept going,” he said, noting that he has so far chosen to remain silent about the crash due to the amount of attention he received from a previous fire accident in November that left him with severe burns to his upper body – including his face and neck.
“You know, after you get burned, you get that one for free,” he joked. “Then you’re Harrison Ford, crashing planes. You just want to keep your head down.”
Fortunately, the comedian is recovering well after both accidents: “I have a broken collarbone. I have two broken ribs. I have two broken kneecaps,” he said. “But I’m OK!”
The crash comes nearly two months after he was hospitalized for second- and third-degree burns when a clogged fuel line blew gas into his face as he and old friend Dave Killackey were in the undercarriage of a 1907 White Steam car.
The incident engulfed Leno’s upper body in a “wall of fire,” Killackey explained Today‘s Hoda Kotb, after which he was treated with severe burns over his face, neck, chest, hands and left arm.
Now comes the double whammy of Leno’s bike accident and Garage from Jay Leno is not extended.
The cancellation effectively ends his relationship with NBC that has lasted more than 30 years, starting in 1992 when he took over The tonight show from the late great Johnny Carson (after winning a highly publicized bidding war against David Letterman, who eventually launched his own competitor show on CBS, which ran for 23 seasons).
Another night fight followed Leno in 2009, when he agreed to hand over The tonight show over to Conan O’Brien, only to later regret the decision. Concerned that he would jump to a competing network, NBC decided to keep Leno on the network in the 10 p.m. slot with The Jay Leno Show.
After rating issues, NBC eventually moved Leno back to his regular slot of 11:30 p.m., making O’Brien’s Tonight Show until midnight. O’Brien fought the decision and eventually won a multimillion-dollar settlement where he left NBC.
Still, the rumor created an opportunity for Leno to return to The tonight showagain, where he remained until 2014, when he turned it over to his current host Jimmy Fallon.
Although Leno also hosts Fox’s syndicated game show You bet your lifelooks like the comedian’s decades-long career at NBC has come to an end — for now.