It probably shouldn't come as any surprise, given the well-publicized financial troubles at NBC, but the hammer came down on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno yesterday, and even with the top guy taking a pay cut, the hammer came down hard. The show has reportedly laid off about 20 employees, possibly as many as 25, and Leno took a "tremendous" pay cut, to "save as many people's jobs as he could."

That all comes via Deadline, which was unable to confirm what forced the staff cuts, or in which department they happened. Here's the bulk of what their insider source was able to tell them:

“I don’t think ad sales are off. I just think the people who bought this company, Comcast, wants to go through everything at NBC and get their money back. It’s hard to go through those kinds of cuts. It’s more a network issue than a late-night issue. And I would say that Jay doesn’t get credit for digging out of a gigantic hole every single night. He’s a very valuable guy to NBC and someday everyone will understand that. He does a great job.”

Leno's tenure at NBC, as you probably know, has been consistently troubled in the last few years, from the scheduling shakeup debacle that ran Conan O'Brien off the network to getting beaten by Letterman in the ratings to even a Mitt Romney joke that got him sued. It's probably hard to argue that any of those things were related to the layoffs, but it's also surprising that NBC would cut corners on The Tonight Show, still one of the flagship shows of the network, and doing well enough in the ratings, if not quite as well as it would have been a decade ago.

We'll let you know when more news emerges what the layoffs might mean, and if, God forbid, Leno offered to sell one of his massively expensive cars to help pay the difference. I'm not really counting on that last one.

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