Johnny Carson, Prince, Bob Dole: Brad Dickson recalls his time writing for Leno on 'The Tonight Show'

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Posted: Friday, February 7, 2014 12:00 am | Updated: 2:16 pm, Thu Jun 5, 2014.

So Jay Leno, my old boss of nearly 14 years, has left “The Tonight Show” again. What can be said that hasn't already been said the last five times he retired? Other than he probably got the short end of the stick – again. He was likely removed for reasons that have more to do with how he was perceived by executives rather than his ratings, which, though not what they once were pre-Conangate, are still fairly good.

I can remember arriving on the NBC lot in Burbank in 1992 to help write the monologue, in the waning weeks of the former “Tonight Show” regime, and being told in no uncertain terms that I was not even to look in the direction of the great Johnny Carson when he arrived in his yellow Corvette (I peeked) to tape his show. I also remember the palpable tension between the two staffs and crews – Carson's and Leno's – that was akin to the talk show version of straddling the DMZ dividing North and South Korea.

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