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Leno, Murdoch among TV Hall of Fame inductees

The Television Academy's 23rd Hall Of Fame Induction Gala

By Lynn Elber

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) - Bill Maher took advantage of pal Jay Leno's Television Academy Hall of Fame induction to offer a spirited attack on what Maher called undeserved "bad publicity" for the former "Tonight Show" host.

Introducing Leno at Tuesday night's ceremony, Maher said his behavior never warranted the brickbats tossed at him over Conan O'Brien's short-lived tenure as "Tonight Show" host.

"Jay Leno reminds me a little bit of Israel," Maher said. "He's not perfect, but he's held to a standard nobody is expected to live up to but him."

The media helped fan the myth that Leno "stole Conan's dream" when NBC brought Leno back to host "Tonight" after the show's ratings dropped in 2009 with O'Brien at the helm.

Maher, host of HBO's "Real Time," used an expletive to dismiss the idea that such a theft is possible, then offered himself as a tongue-in-cheek example: He claimed that Tom Cruise robbed him of the starring role in "Top Gun."

Leno's reputation among critics as a bland host compared with supposedly "edgy" predecessor Johnny Carson also is a falsehood, Maher said, and called Leno suited to his time just as Carson was when he hosted "Tonight."

After Maher's introduction, Leno's remarks proved mild. Repeating assertions he made when he ended his 22-year tenure as host in February, Leno, 63, said it was the right time to turn "Tonight" over to the younger Jimmy Fallon, who is 39.

Leno said he watches Fallon's show, and the two talk a couple of times a week.

"He's terrific. He brings a new energy," Leno said before the ceremony. "I think he was smart to take it to New York, get a different vibe or different feel."

The other inductees included media baron Rupert Murdoch; Julia Louis-Dreyfus; prolific writer-producer David E. Kelley ("Boston Legal," ''The Practice," ''Ally McBeal"); and former ABC executive Brandon Stoddard, who shepherded breakthrough shows including "Roots."

Sound pioneer Ray Dolby was inducted posthumously, with his wife, Dagmar, and son David accepting the honor.

Murdoch noted that the TV academy ceremony fell on his 83rd birthday, which he called an annoyance: "As you well know, I'm not fond of looking back," he said.

The chairman of News Corp. and 21st Century Fox did offer reflections on his career, which he said has focused on providing consumers with more choices and taking the risks needed to do so - such as starting the Fox network in 1986 to compete with the big three broadcasters.

Murdoch, whose media empire was shaken by a phone hacking scandal that led to the current London trial of two of the top editors of Murdoch's defunct News of the World, did not take questions before the ceremony.

Louis-Dreyfus, the Emmy-winning star of "Seinfeld," ''The New Adventures of Old Christine" and "Veep," was saluted by friend Amy Poehler as "the best one on 'Seinfeld'" and always the funniest in a room.

Louis-Dreyfus shared advice she learned from her physics high school teacher: "Have fun at all costs," she said.

Join the discussion

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Roosevelt March 12 2014 at 7:08 AM

not a thing

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1 reply
Blessed One X 20 Roosevelt March 12 2014 at 7:33 AM


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Max Filbert March 12 2014 at 9:19 AM

It's not often (as in never before) that I can agree with any opinion Bill Maher proffers but I agree with him Jay Leno got a raw deal from the press and the industry over his return to the Tonight Show. I agree with Leno on Fallon's talent and energy and also believe the move back to New York City was smart. Now if they would only do the shows live at 1130 PM like Carson and Jack Paar did. I mean you're up and watching to show at midnight and it's cool to think the actors are too. NY, the city that never sleeps. It works for SNL!

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roxyphd March 12 2014 at 8:48 AM

I still miss Leno; Jimmy has some very boring sketches..the only funny one is when they play charades...Jimmy is very talented, he should do things to show off his talent, not what he has been doing...and Seth Meyers show, can you give him a set , he just has a desk and a chair, is NBC afraid he is going to fail? Also NBC better have more and better guests on both Jimmy's and Seth's show, is it b/c you won't let celebrities that go on other shows go on yours ?

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Patrick March 12 2014 at 8:40 AM

I am not going to sit here and compare Jimmy Fallon to Jay Leno BUT Jimmy Fallon was BORN AFTER I graduated from High School.Johny Carson started it all and Jay Leno followed and did fine.Jimmy Fallon has some big shoes to fill.He will do just fine.....give him some time.

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MaryLou March 12 2014 at 12:24 PM

I miss Jay Leno-I wish he would get another program

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rustyredred March 12 2014 at 8:24 AM

i miss jay on tonight show just do not care for any of the others so i turn tv off earlier. glad leno got this award

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jhanecker2 March 12 2014 at 8:10 AM

Congratulations to all the new enductees .

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Janette March 12 2014 at 8:10 AM

broncofan54 you are sooooooo right. Would someone please give Leno a show? I really miss him. Fallon would not make a good pimple on Leno's butt.

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broncofan54 March 12 2014 at 7:36 AM

Fallon is no match for Leno. The Tonight Show is ruined...

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Donna March 12 2014 at 8:31 AM

I too miss Leno on the Tonight show. I have tied to watch it with Jimmy Fallon but the charisma isn't there. I guess I am too old for Fallon humor because I don't think I laughed more than twice during the opening monologue . It didn't work with Conan either .
Congratulations to him for the award

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