Jay Leno in Demand: CNN's Jeff Zucker Among Suitors

6:00 AM PST 12/18/2013 by Matthew Belloni , Lacey Rose
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Jay Leno

The late-night host will be without a TV job in February, with the architect of the "Tonight Show" debacle joining Tribune, "American Idol's" Core Media and even ex-NBC chief Jeff Gaspin among those courting him.

This story first appeared in the Jan. 3, 2014, issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

How in demand is Jay Leno? The most watched late-night host, who will be without a TV job in February when NBC transitions The Tonight Show to Jimmy Fallon, has been approached by some unlikely suitors.

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Sources tell THR that CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker -- who, while running NBCUniversal, famously set in motion Leno's first ouster from Tonight by promising the show to Conan O'Brien in 2009 -- is among those who have approached Leno for a late-night or primetime show on his network. Zucker recently visited briefly with Leno at NBC in Burbank. Also among the 10 or so outlets courting the comic are Tribune, American Idol producer Core Media Group and even former NBC chief Jeff Gaspin. But Leno, 63, and his lone representative, attorney Ken Ziffren, are said to be refusing to entertain offers until the host fulfills his obligation to NBC on Feb. 6.

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The workaholic Leno, whose ratings consistently beat those of rivals David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel, could decide to jump into another TV gig, tour or write a book. An unlikely option would be him staying with NBC in a new role, though entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt tells THR he'll make a strong push: "Nothing would make me happier than to find ways to keep him involved with this network. That's really up to him."

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