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Jan 28, 2010 11:32 AM by Associated Press

Leno: NBC booted him from Tonight Show

Jay Leno says he was "devastated" when NBC executives asked him to leave "The Tonight Show" in 2004 because they wanted to give the program to Conan O'Brien.

Leno told Oprah Winfrey on Thursday's episode of her talk show that he told "a white lie on the air" when he said he was going to retire because he assumed he would find another job in show business.

He says the experience "was pretty shocking."

NBC has now unseated O'Brien from "Tonight" and moved Leno back to the program he had hosted for 17 years. Leno is scheduled to return to "Tonight" on March 1.

Harpo Productions has asked O'Brien to appear on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," but an appearance hasn't been confirmed.

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