This week has been a rough ride for Jay Leno. Literally and figuratively.
On Thursday, the late-night legend, 72, was revealed to the Las Vegas Review Journal that he’s on the mend — again — from a Jan. 17 motorcycle accident that broke several bones in his body.
To make matters worse, soon after that interview was published, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that CNBC is canceling the comedian’s show, Jay Leno’s Garage, after seven seasons of being in the primetime spot, as part of the network’s recent shift to invest more in business news and personal finance content — thus ending Leno’s three-decades-long relationship with NBC, following a 22-year stint hosting the Tonight Show.
The comedian, who was prepping for a one-night engagement at the Wynn hotel in Vegas on March 31, explained that he “got knocked off” his vintage motorcycle (a 1940 Indian) after taking it on a test drive, during which he decided to pull over after smelling what he thought was leaking gas.
“I turned down a side street and cut through a parking lot, and unknownst to me, some guy had a wire strung across the parking lot but with 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 clothesline[d] me and, boom, knocked me off the bike.
“The bike kept going,” he said, noting that until now he had chosen to stay silent about the crash because of the amount of coverage he received from a prior burning accident in November, which left him with severe burns to his upper body — including his face and neck.
“You know, after getting burned up, you get that one for free,” he quipped. “After that, you’re Harrison Ford, crashing airplanes. You just want to keep your head down.”
Thankfully, the comedian is recovering well after both mishaps: “I’ve got a broken collarbone. I’ve got two broken ribs. I’ve got two cracked kneecaps,” he said. “But I’m OK!”
The crash came nearly two months after he was hospitalized for second- and third-degree burns, when a clogged fuel line blew gas in his face as he and long-time 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 to today‘s Hoda Kotb, after which he was treated with severe burns across his face, neck, chest, hands and left arm.
Now comes the double whammy of Leno’s bike accident and Jay Leno’s Garage not being renewed.
The cancellation effectively ends his relationship with NBC that has spanned more than 30 years, beginning 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 ultimately launched his own competitor show on CBS, which ran for 23 seasons).
Another late-night battle followed Leno in 2009, when he agreed to hand The Tonight Show over to Conan O’Brien, only to regret the decision later. Worried that he’d jump to a competing network, NBC decided to keep Leno at the network in the 10 pm slot with The Jay Leno Show.
Following ratings troubles, NBC eventually moved Leno back to his regular 11:30 pm slot, pushing O’Brien’s Tonight Show to midnight. O’Brien fought the decision and eventually won a multimillion-dollar settlement where he left NBC.
Still, the ruckus created an opportunity for Leno to return to The Tonight Showagain, where he stayed until 2014, after which he handed it over to its current host Jimmy Fallon.
Though Leno also hosts Fox’s syndicated game show You Bet Your Lifeit appears the comedian’s decades-long career at NBC has come to an end — for now.