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Rosie thinks Jay Leno should ‘walk away’

O’Donnell thinks O’Brien, who recently said he would not accept NBC’s request to move “The Tonight Show” to 12:05 a.m., is a big talent and it is time for Jay Leno to step aside.
/ Source: Access Hollywood

Rosie O’Donnell believes Jay Leno should step aside.

The former “View” moderator, who got her start in stand up before becoming a household name hosting her own syndicated talk show, shared her view after being asked at HBO’s Television Critics Association panel on Thursday, if she’d be interested in heading into late night.

“That question today is like asking if I’d like to vacation in Haiti. Although I hear it’s an enjoyable place, this wouldn’t be the time to go. Correct?” she laughed. “I have been a big fan of Conan O’Brien … and [“The Tonight Show” is] a franchise that has been 60 years with NBC, and if you’re privileged enough to be asked to drive the bus, you should say thank you and drive it to the best of your ability and when it’s time for them to hire a new driver, you should say, ‘Thank you for allowing me to drive this for as long as I did,’ and pass the keys to the new guy with red hair, and not try to flatten his tires, before he even gets going.”

(Msnbc.com is a joint venture between Microsoft and NBC Universal.)

Following the press event, where O’Donnell was promoting her new HBO documentary, “A Family Is A Family Is A Family: A Rosie O’Donnell Celebration,” set to premiere on Jan. 31, the outspoken star said she plans to reach out to O’Brien.

“I will definitely talk to him,” she told a small group of journalists. “I’ve heard from a lot of his staff.”

O’Donnell went on to say that she thinks O’Brien, who recently said he would not accept NBC’s request to move “The Tonight Show” to 12:05 a.m., is a big talent and it is time for Jay Leno, whose show NBC said they would move to 11:35 p.m., to step aside.

“I think he’s a fantastic talent and 17 years he gave to that network and they really did a disservice to him,”  O’Donnell said of O’Brien. “I think shame on (NBC President) Jeff Zucker and really, shame on Jay Leno. I think he’s forgotten his roots and what stand up comedy is about, and graciousness has never been his No. 1 quality. … I think it would serve him well to think about what might happen if he were able to let go and grab on to whatever the next rung is.”

When asked what she thinks Leno should do, O’Donnell said: Move on!

“I think he should walk away,” she said. “Five years ago he was told that he was no longer going to be the host. Joe Namath at one point was told, ‘You’re not gonna be the quarterback.’ ”