This story first appeared in the April 5 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Leno’s on-air ribbing of NBC and its ratings struggles had drawn the ire of Greenblatt, who had fired off an angry after-midnight email to Leno.
The missive, which blind cc’d several NBC executives, led to a terse electronic exchange between Greenblatt and the longtime host. Shortly thereafter, on March 1, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that NBC was planning an exit strategy for Leno, 62. Despite his status as the most-watched late-night host, he would be asked to hand over The Tonight Show to the network’s 38-year-old Late Night star Jimmy Fallon, 24 years his junior, around the time Leno’s current contract expires in September 2014. Sources say Leno, when he signed his most recent deal, expected it could be his last at the network. But he is said to have been upset by what he perceived to be an NBC leak to THR and by the prospect of another messy transition that would play out in the press.