IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Judge rules Leno can tell Jackson jokes

‘Tonight Show’ host was using surrogates to lob shots at singer
/ Source: The Associated Press

Judge Rodney Melville ruled Friday that comedian Jay Leno, who has been subpoenaed to testify in the Michael Jackson trial, can tell jokes about the pop singer on “The Tonight Show.”

Leno had been prohibited from taking swipes at Jackson because all subpoenaed witnesses are under a court-imposed gag order. The judge gave Leno an exemption.

Hours before the judge made his ruling, “The Tonight Show” host found a way to slip in a quip without opening his mouth.

After arriving “late” for the taping of Thursday’s “Tonight Show,” Leno stepped out of a black limousine wearing SpongeBob SquarePants pajamas and accompanied by several bodyguards. One of the bodyguards held an open umbrella over Leno’s head as the comedian remained silent when asked why he was late.

Earlier in the day, Jackson had arrived late to court wearing pajama bottoms and a T-shirt under a coat. His lawyers explained the pop star had come straight from a hospital where he had been treated for a back injury.

Leno, who has been subpoenaed to testify at Jackson’s trial, has asked the court to exempt him from a gag order preventing everyone involved in the case from discussing it.

“They’re ruling on my gag order tomorrow to see if I’m allowed to tell Jackson jokes,” he told his audience Thursday. “I’m not legally allowed to tell Michael Jackson jokes, but I can still write them.”

Then, as he has in recent days, he called on another comedian, Drew Carey, to handle that night’s Jackson duty.

“Michael Jackson showed up to court late today wearing his pajama bottoms,” Carey told the audience. “You know what? You find the kid wearing the pajama top and we have another court case on our hands.”

Defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. has said Leno was among a number of celebrities who were approached by the accuser’s mother. The defense contends the family tried to bilk Leno and others out of money.