Rumor has it, Leno had an agreement with Carson to continue the ban against Rivers that Carson initiated in 1986. Carson famously stopped Rivers from appearing on the show after she started her own talk show.
“No, no, no, it never even came up,” Leno told host, Billy Bush, on Access Hollywood of the ban on Rivers. “Nothing was ever said. We just didn’t do it.”
Although, Leno is admitting that he never had Rivers on the show out of respect for Carson. “I didn’t want to do it [interview Rivers] while Johnny was alive, out of respect for Johnny. I don’t think he wanted to see her on the show.”
Still, even after Carson died in 2005, Leno didn’t make the effort to have Rivers on the program.
Leno admitted it was due to the fact that, “It got a little awkward. By that point, Joan was sort of going on and on about me and I felt, well, let’s let the ground lie fallow for a while and we’ll see what happens. But she always kind of kept it going.”
Leno said that he actually liked Rivers and considered them friends. He admitted that she was the first autograph he ever got, but that things were never right between the two of them. “It just got to be awkward and we just never did it.”
Rivers died last month after complications during surgery.
Also during Leno’s Access Hollywood appearance, the comedian confirmed he will be hosting a new series next year called Jay Leno’s Garage.
“This show will be about anything that rolls, explodes and makes noise,” Leno explained. “We hope to highlight the passion and the stories behind men and women who made the automobile the greatest invention of the 20th century.”
Leno famously has an extensive car collection. He owns hundreds of vehicles and previously had a website, also called Jay Leno’s Garage, dedicated to detailing and sharing information about his collection and other automotives. It appears that site has now been merged with the NBC show site.
Watch Leno’s Access Hollywood interview below.